Saturday, February 14, 2009

“CANNOT Contain It” (Mark 1:45)

S-1099 2/08/09 6SAE/3C Hymns: (O) #398; (S) #32; (C) #134

Texts 2 Kings 5:1-14; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45

Theme: “CANNOT Contain It” (Mark 1:45)

Question: “Do you remember the last time you were touched by the Savior?”


This sermon will be preached right during the Absolution from the right side of the Altar.

Upon this your confession, I by virtue of my office as a called and ordained servant of the Word, say to you, “don’t worry about your sins; forget it; it is no big deal; it is nothing; no problem and it is only a mistake.” What is wrong with this absolution that I have just shared with you? (Please be seated)

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson “But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.” (Mark 1:35).

Saints in Christ, it interesting to note how we as Christians view sin. It seems the only place we use the word sin is here in church. But when what we used to call sin happens in the world, we make it to be simply a minor mistake and not to be concerned with its consequences. Consider what has filled the news in the last couple of weeks with the nominations that President Obama wants for his cabinet. Treasury Secretary Tim Geither said, “He was careless in failing to pay $34.000 in Social Security and taxes.” He apologized to Congress. Tom Daschle said, “His mistake of not paying $128.000 for his chauffeur was mishandled and unintentional”. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico surrendered his bid for Commerce Secretary when allegations of corruption surfaced.

In the sports news, Michael Phelps was pictured holding a bong smoking pot. He apologized by saying, “I acted in an inappropriate behavior”. Some of his sponsors said, it is a “nonissue”. Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees said after being caught using enhancement drugs, “I am sorry and deeply regretful for my actions.” Are these people sorry for what they have done, or are they sorry for being caught? We will never know.

As you listen to the news you can see their views on these “mistakes”, “inappropriate behaviors” or “nonissue”. “Don’t worry about your sins; it is no big deal; it is nothing; no problem and it is only a mistake.” And that is exactly how we in the Church at times think of sin. IT IS NO BIG DEAL, don’t worry about it, it is only a mistake. PAUSE.

Today, St. Mark reveals the compassionate and passionate Christ who meets a leper in need. As Jesus is out preaching in the nearby villages a leper comes to Him, and asked Him, “If you are willing, You can make me clean.” (Mk. 1:40). The compassionate Lord stretches His hand and touched him and restored him to a good health. After the healing, Jesus demanded that no word of this miracle should be uttered.

But what happened was contrary to the wishes of the healing Christ. The leper in his joy COULDN’T contain himself; but instead he shared the news with everyone around him. Rather than keeping quiet, he tells the whole world about the miracle that took place in His life through the man from Nazareth called Jesus.

Why couldn’t this leper contain it? Because, what happened to him is more than what meets the eye. This man, who was an outcast from society, from his family and who had to cry out when he saw other people “unclean, unclean!” now is completely restored to the community and his family. Jesus did more to this leper than we can envision—He gave him a new lease on life.

This leper is now restored to the community and to his family and home. He could embrace his wife. He could kiss his children. He could hold his mother’s arms again. And for this, He couldn’t contain his joy. But there is more—he is also restored spiritually. Jesus gave him both physical and spiritual life. And nothing would hinder him from sharing the joy that fills his heart on account of the cleansing by the man from Nazareth.

Have you done that lately? Did you ever go out of the church and say to each other, “Today, God for Christ’s sake forgave me my sins?” When was the last time we left God’s house with great joy not complaining at the length of the service, but rather saying, “God has restored me to the community of believers? God has cleansed me from the leprosy of sin through His death and resurrection? God has washed me by His blood and made me whole again?”

It really is a sad thing that we don’t take these words from the Pastor to heart, “in the name and the stead of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ I FORGIVE YOU ALL OF YOUR SINS.” We don’t believe them because our views of sin are distorted and twisted. It is similar to the men I mentioned above. These men have admitted to doing something wrong, but not really “sinning.” They point to the fact that we all say, “what I did wasn’t really that bad,” but refuse to call sin, sin.

These men, because of their sin, have endangered their relationship with God, and endanger others as well. When they ignore the serious nature of sin, they put themselves at risk as well as others. When WE sin, we not only affect ourselves, but we affect others. For example when anyone with an addiction gets to a point where they will steal or even kill even their loved ones, just to get money to buy another “hit.” Our sin effects everyone, especially those we love, and those who are close to us. For this reason we also need to yell, “Unclean! Unclean” because our sin, our sinful behavior WILL hurt others and separate us from God.

By realizing our sin and the consequences of it, only then does the absolution become of the utmost important; because it shows that we too need to be made whole and clean again. Should we not be joyful and not able to contain the blessings of sins forgiven?

Truly, we don’t appreciate the forgiveness of sins. For if we did; we couldn’t contain our joy either. If we believed this message from Christ, we would be knocking down the door of the church and coming in to receive this blessing of sins forgiven; not only on Sunday but ever day. If we believed it we wouldn’t care how the long the service is. The sad reality we DON’T take God’s Word to heart when He says “I forgive you”. PAUSE.

When Christ forgiveness fills my life and His love colors my days, smiles not frowns, are in place. When my Savior, the Friend of sinners stands besides me, I CAN’T help contain the joy of knowing my sins are forgiven. When Jesus through the Pastor announces the absolution to us, a miracle takes place of greater value than the cleansing of the leper in our text today—we become, pure, holy and righteous in the sight of God. PAUSE.

It is hard for us to believe this message because there is an ocean of sin in our hearts—an ocean that quickly takes us deep into the abyss of despair and death. And as we look at this ocean, we wonder if God can really forgive me. We wonder if He really cares to cleanse me. We wonder if He would extend His compassionate and passionate hands to us and restore us again.

There is no room to doubt brothers and sister about what Christ has done and continue to do. Look to the cross and see those outstretched hands that carry ALL OF YOUR SINS. Just as Jesus touched the leper, He touches us also!  When I as your Pastor (God’s man in this place) pronounce the absolution, “by the stead and by the command,” it is not I, it is Jesus Christ. We simply confer what Jesus gives. Jesus touches you, through the voice and hands of His servant. Oh the joy that fills my heart, knowing I have been transported from death to life; from sinner to saint, from hell-bound to heaven-bound. I CANNOT CONTAIN IT; any more, than I can contain the joy of sharing with you the birth of my grandchild.

What joy the good news then brings! “Your sins are taken away. Jesus has paid the greatest price, His own blood, for all of you. His righteousness clothes you for heaven.” That’s the joy of faith that clings to the promise of Christ.

Remember, we are forgiven not because we ask. Rather we ask because we are forgiven. Therefore, ask the Lord to give you daily what Jesus urges us to have: A heart crushed by the realization of the horror of sin and a heart caught by the love of the message of God’s kingdom of love. For today, the Savior says to you and me, “I will; be clean!” And you are clean.

Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all of your sins in the name of the Father and the + Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

We will continue with the confession of sins on page 47.

No comments: