Weekly sermon synopsis and sermon text
Ever lost something so important that finding it again made you throw a huge party? Today we hear of two parables in Luke 15:1-10 that demonstrate how persistently God comes looking for his lost and how much heaven rejoices when they are found. The wandering sheep that leaves the 99. The coin that can’t be located amongst the darkness and dirt. These parables can comfort on us on many levels including when we personally stray, when we are are concerned about those we love who have strayed, and when we are concerned with the world at large as it strays. When it all seems hopeless, God’s word in these parables helps us to remember that God is persistent in going after the lost. And when he finds them, he lavishes his love on them, for ‘… there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’ (Luke 15:10).
Many of us will be familiar with the first commandment that simply says: “You shall have no other gods”.
Many of us will also be familiar with how subtly the other gods of our lives at first present, then before we know it, in effect takeover. Idolatry is the chief topic of our Old Testament reading and sermon text from
Jeremiah 2:4-13 today. “Hear the word of the Lord…” is how it starts. In it, God takes us through the charges against his people in this regard.
It drips with hurt, pathos, rejection and incredulity. We need to hear that. To hear what the Lord has done for us and how he has loved us, and therefore why our idolatry is so wrenching. To hear how idolatry makes the idolator just like the idol: worthless (Jer 2:5). But we also need to hear that God’s very address of this matter is indeed part of his deep care, commitment and concern for us… to go out of one’s way to address with your child what is the most tetchy of topics (with the risk of further rejection and hurt) shows God’s grace and commitment to us, knows no bounds, in its effort to bring us back to worship of the one true God.
Jeremiah was a young man when the Lord called him to be a prophet to the kingdom of Judah (and ‘the nations’ – Jer 1:5) in the 40 years before Judah’s exile to Babylon in 587 BC. He was worried about what he would say, offering up the excuse of his youth (Jer 1:6). Humanly, Jeremiah’s concern is understandable. But it was Divine initiative at work here and therefore able to overcome all obstacles. Hence the Lord comforted him promising: “Do not be afraid… for I am with you and will rescue you’ (Jer 1:8). With that he also put his words in Jeremiah’s mouth (Jer 1:9). Naturally, we tend to put our humanly understood abilities (and resulting limitations) ahead of God’s reality when we think of what is possible in his kingdom. So today, we’ll look at how God’s word also works in our life to bring us into Godly vocations. In these vocations we serve him and his creation in confidence, although as with Jeremiah, not necessarily without trial!
Fire on earth. Family division. Not peace on earth.
These are all claims Jesus Christ makes about his ministry in our gospel and sermon text this week from Luke 12:49-56.
They are harsh words.
Not very Gospel it seems… hardly consistent with the angelic announcement in the fields of Bethlehem of ‘peace on earth to those on whom his favour rests’ (Luke 2:14b).
Especially shocking after the ‘do not worry’ in only verse 22 of the same chapter.
It’s all part of what can be really confusing about Jesus, Christianity and the church , for believer and non-believer alike.
So on Sunday, we’ll look at what is going on here and also make sure we hear Jesus’ grace within these words.