All Sewn Up?
Easter Friday
21 April 2017
If our hearts are set on the things of this world, Scripture tells us that we are the most pitiable persons. Yet, many of the people of our acquaintance know nothing but the things of this world. They will leave behind a legacy of financial well-being and spiritual ruin to their families. Seldom will they leave their children and grandchildren a legacy of faith in Christ and sacrificial service to the church. Such people give no thought to the things of the kingdom of Christ, the resurrection of the flesh, or the life of the world to come. Such things are passed off as insignificant as long as their 401(k) is fully funded. We Christians should offer up a secret prayer when we see such pitiable persons, first asking God that such unbelief might be repented of and that we ourselves would not fall into such misbelief, shame and vice.
I want most of all to bequeath the faith of Christ and the hope of the world to come to my children (and, I hope and pray, my grandchildren). There is nothing more important that I can give them. My children often surprise me with the strength and solidity of their Christian confession. But I shouldn't be surprised because they have been given Christ at every opportunity both at home, church, and in Lutheran schools. Christ the risen Lord is their Lord. They have a hope that transcends earthly conditions and its life.
The confession of the resurrected Christ must continue to be at the center not only of our Christian family life, but also must continue to be made by our churches. Some years ago, I recall a much-touted church speaker saying, "We've got the doctrine straight. That we don't have to worry about. Now we must get on to more important business." Never mind about the resurrection, the power of baptism, the forgiveness of sins, and the cross; that we've got all sewn up! Let's get on to our more important human plans for the Lord's church. He surely needs our help. Uh huh. Such thinking is an implicit denial that the Crucified is the living Lord of the church, it ignores that He Himself has told us to teach all that He has commanded us (Mt 28:20). He promises to be with us always and He will be in the preaching of the things we humans think to be quite unimportant or already all sewn up by us. The apostle Paul resisted this with every fiber of his being as we can see in 1 Corinthians 15. We likewise need to be warned against complacency about the stuff we think is unimportant or all sewn up.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"The goal of our faith in Christ, of baptism, of sermon, and of sacrament, is that we hope for a new life, that we come to Christ, that we rule eternally with Him, delivered from sin, devil, death, and every evil. Whoever does not think accordingly, or who even denies and derides this, will surely also have a low regard for Christ and for all that He did as well as for all that He gave us and instituted for us. For what would it amount to if we had received nothing better from Him than this wretched life and if we relied on Him in vain and suffered all that devil and world can inflict on us, and if He proved a liar with His great promises to us? As St. Paul himself says: 'If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied' (1Co 15:19). But what more shameful thing might be said of Christians than that such is being preached among them and that they still have no higher regard for their Christ? And yet it happened that the dear apostle had to experience this from his pupils. He had to see and hear this in his own parish or diocese. It must have pained him that he was unable to fend this off, and that he could only strengthen and preserve the assailed faith of a small and faithful group through this epistle.
"But this has been recorded as our warning and admonition, that we, having the precious Word in its purity, be concerned and intent on being guided by it, apprehend it well and firmly, adhere to it, and do not become slothful, secure, and weary of it, lest factious spirits and smart-alecks arise also among us to destroy these articles of faith and deprive us of them (on which our entire salvation and happiness are founded). For since the Corinthians, St. Paul's own disciples, to whom he had also preached and imparted the unadulterated Word, fell so miserably, a striking example has been placed before our very noses, bringing home to us the statement of St. Paul in 1Co 10:12: 'Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall,' being too sure of himself. This prompts us, when seeing or hearing someone who has become such a sow and heathen, to say apprehensively and prayerfully: 'Dear Lord, do not let me fall this way.' For this happens so easily when we feel secure and careless. For the devil surely presses us hard and assails us and also great men with the temptation to disbelieve this article or to doubt it.
"Therefore we may well take a lesson from the fact that the foremost and almost the first congregation among the Gentiles, in whose midst St. Paul had preached the longest, was split into such factions the moment he turned his back. It deteriorated to such an extent that it is terrible to recall. What might we who are preaching now expect when the holy and exalted apostle, compared to whom we are nothing, experienced this at the hands of his disciples? Moreover, this happened during his own lifetime, obliging him to resist this with writings and in every other way possible." 

Martin Luther, Commentary on 1 Corinthians
Colossians 3:1-7

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.
Dear Lord, do not let me fall into complacency and this-worldliness. You have been raised by the Father to reign over Your church in Word and Sacraments. Send Your Holy Spirit that I might live like it and confess this truth faithfully. Amen.
For Jill Stoneburner, that God the Lord would grant her strength and healing in accordance with His gracious will
For all pastors, in thanksgiving to God that they have proclaimed the death and life of the Lord in these holy days

For all those who are skeptical of the Lord's resurrection, that the Word of God would work richly in their lives to lead them into a confession of the truth of His life
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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