Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reformation Sunday

Today's Saying

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36

Today in many of the Churches that use the Common Lectionary is celebrated as Reformation Sunday The assigned Gospel is John 8:31-36. In Lutheran Churches the hymn “ A Mighty Fortress” will almost certainly be sung.
The text for the day deals with the very heart of the Reformation. How do you deal with sin.
In the text Jesus tells a group of His followers that following Him can make them free.
This does not make them happy but rather irritates them. They respond “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?"
They should have known better. The children of Abraham had been the slaves of Pharaoh on Egypt and God through Moses had to rescue them. They celebrated that rescue every year in the Passover.
But Jesus wasn’t taking about that kind of slavery. He was talking about the slavery that held even Pharaoh. He was talking about slavery to sin.
This kind of slavery destroyed your relationship to God.
It separated you from God’s family.
It separated you from other people.
But his listeners thought they had a way to control sin. It was called “ The Law”.
You obeyed all the rules and you won.
The Pharisees saw themselves as the victors in this fight.
But Jesus knew better. He saw the cancer of the heart.
Like the bondage to the Egyptians only an act of God could end this bondage.
“If the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.” He tells them.
By the time of the Reformation the Church had developed entire systems for dealing with sin. They were not designed to set you free but to take away the penalty.
Like the Children of Abraham it was a system of rules , of law.
Luther comes along burdened with the truth of his own sin and hears Jesus tell him he can be free.
He believes and the Reformation begins.
We live in an age that handles sin by pretending there isn’t any. Despite all the evil things people do sin is an out of date concept.
Even the churches of the Reformation accept a new good works. It is salvation by niceness. God has to love us because unlike the rest of the people we are nice. We do nice things.
We proclaim that people who never went to Church go to heaven because they were nice people.
But still the only power strong enough to free us from the power of sin is the power coming from the Cross of Christ.
It doesn’t make us nice. It gives us the freedom to be nice.
It frees us to love.
It frees us from our own selfish nature.
It frees us to do good things.
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
May you be truly free.

It is Sunday in Pigeon Falls and Pastor Joan in back in her pulpit. She could not be happier. Her face is literally glowing.This is part of the sermon she will preach this morning:
“ I stand here a really free person.
I want to shout it. I want to run up and down the aisle screaming it out.
I am free. I am free.
I am not free because I am an American.
The freedom America gives me is wonderful and I’m thankful for it.
But it can be taken away.
The majority might decide to give up their freedom, my freedom for security.
When you are afraid you might do that.
Given a choice between being blown up or giving up your freedom. Well for many that’s the end of freedom.
The freedom I have you can’t take away.
The nation can change. It can forget its roots and I will still be free.
For my freedom doesn’t come from a Constitution or a judicial decree.
No my freedom is a gift from God.
It is freedom from the power of sin.
You see I can live in a free country and still be a slave to sin.
Sin causes me to hate, to do things that are self destructive, to ignore the poor and much more.
But God has set me free at the cross from that power.
I am free to love my enemy.
I am free to care for others.
I am truly free.
Sometimes I forget I’m free. I let sin run things.
But then God calls me back to freedom.
I am FREE. Hooray“.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Purity of soul is a step towards God.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful Sermons my friend. I've never thought of being free this way. It gives me much to think about. Have a wonderful Sunday :)

1:58 AM  
Anonymous quilly said...

There was a time when I thought being a Christian would be much to hard a work and no fun at all. Now I know how very wrong that was.

Being a sinner was the hard work! I was always carrying extra weight around from all the shame and guilt -- and that wasn't a lot of fun!

Then Jesus changed everything. Now I understand what it is to be truly joyful -- and that horrid weight and the black cloud that always hovered over me are gone, gone, gone! Some days I feel so light and energized that I have to consciously remind myself I can't fly!

The yoke Jesus puts on us really is lighter than the yoke of sin.

2:26 AM  
Blogger anthonynorth said...

You're right about us running away from sin in the modern world. I think most religions have the concept you're talking about here, and I see it as a kind of universal archetype. And it is this universality that gives it importance in my life.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Lou said...

It is like watering down the Bible, making religion "easier" for all of us busy people. I have been thinking a lot about this lately.

There is a difference between being nice and practicing a faith. Thanks for your clear explanation.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

Stopped by for the Sunday lesson. They are always food for thought.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Mama Zen said...

Excellent sermon as always, Dr. John.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Dulce said...

You are a knight of sermons who has gained a lost soul in the way... and became an amateur poetess... God gives each their way..
Thank you !

7:23 AM  
Blogger Melli said...

What sin? There is no sin! We just make mistakes from time to time... we're not really baaaaad. *rolls eyes*... Oh yes we ARE! But you are right - I am FREEEEEEEE! Free as a breeze! Hooray!

Indeed we DID sing A Mighty Fortress today! The first 4 verses. It was a GREAT music day today! But A Mighty Fortress was our prelude before service started -- and then it was our exit hymn. It set my heart ABLAZE! HE sets my heart ablaze!!!

Great sermons today Pastor!

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Jean Stockdale said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my 6 Words Saturday. I am growing in God's grace. Indeed!


2:57 PM  
Blogger SouthLakesMom said...

Dr. John, our pastor celebrated Reformation Sunday by preaching on Psalm 73. It is so hard to understand, when you are walking with the Lord by faith, why the wicked prosper! Yet, when the Lord clears Asaph's vision, he sees that the ultimate fate of the wicked is so horrible, he is reminded of how blessed he is. The further point, especially for us in this day and age is that we should grieve for those souls who will spend eternity in the wrong zip code and do whatever God calls us to try to help them see that the alternative is so simple...and...FREEING!

The older I get the more urgency I feel for the souls of my friends and neighbors and family members who have not learned the Truth of the Gospel...John 3:16!

p.s. And yes, we sang Mighty Fortress too! At least those modernizers haven't messed up the tune on THAT one!

4:32 PM  
Blogger Melissa B. said...

And if the Packers win, ye shall be joyful. Until next Sunday, that is...

4:50 PM  
Blogger Jeni said...

Your words, aka "sermon," are very similar to what Pastor Carrie spoke about today. She spoke about the Old Covenant and the New Covenant -with the old, being a set of laws, rules by which we were to abide and they were set in stone -The Ten Commandments. But with the New Covenant, that is like a tattoo or even comparable to being branded, on one's heart, that through Baptism, we are thus all God's children and by that, are free -and it is the best kind of freedom in that in can not be taken away from us. Very nice sermon on her part and I enjoyed having it reiterated here in your words. Never hurts to hear good words again and again, does it?

6:03 PM  
Blogger Nessa said...

I always learn something new here on Sundays (even though it is now Monday.)

Book Review #4 - Drood

7:55 AM  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

As usual, I am a day late and a dollar short, but I wanted to shout "AMEN!" to both of your sermons.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Reformation Sunday is my favorite church holiday.
Love Di

4:53 PM  

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