S-1095 1/18/09 Sanctity of Life Sunday Hymns: #126; #106; #132; #20
Texts Daniel 12:3; Philippianes 2:14-16; Matthew 5:13-16;
Theme: “Shine Like the Stars” (Phil. 2:15)
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Question: “How bright is your light?”
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for this Sanctity of Life Sunday is based on the words of the Apostle Paul from the book of Philippians: “…that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
Saints in Christ, “How dare we as a Church remain silent and not speak up the Word of God clearly? How dare we as a Church keep quiet and dilute sin to be only a human error, a minor mistake or lack of judgment? How dare we as a Church call that which is evil good, and what which is good evil? How dare we allow the culture to influence the Church, rather than the Church influence the culture? How dare we defile and pollute the Church of God by allowing gay and lesbians to serve as ministers of the Living God? How dare we close our eyes and ears to the injustices that are going on around us? How dare we as a Church remain silent and not speak up against the human sacrifices on the altar of abortion? How dare we say nothing and do nothing as the children of God?
In today’s reading the Apostle Paul exhorts and encourages us to be different than the world. He bids us to live as children of God with a purpose and mission. He wants us to shine like bright beams of light to those who are walking in darkness. The Apostle Paul with these words reminds us our calling as the redeemed of the Lord. To live in His presence and by His power as stars that shine brightly in this crooked and twisted world.
But to live like the children of God in this perverse and twisted world is not easy thing. To be sure it is very difficult because we will go against the grain of society and the prince of this darkness. Sometimes living as children of God costs us lots of pain, grief and anguish. Case in point.
It was during World War II when the Russians came down to the Baltic States while the Nazis where retreating. At first the Communist soldiers didn’t bother or persecute the Christians. But then persecution began in full force. It was in the country of Latvia that the Communist wanted to emphasize that they will no longer tolerate Christianity. They went to the Lutheran Church and got hold of their outspoken and God-fearing man Jerumus. They dragged Jerumus to the town square and asked him to deny his Lord and his faith. Jerumus replied I can’t do that. They threatened him with death by holding a gun to his head and asked him again to deny his Lord and his faith, and again he responded “I CAN’T do that!” Then the Communist soldiers dragged his wife and two sons to the town square and holding a gun to the wife’s head said, “We will kill your family if you don’t deny your Lord.” His wife with tears in her eyes said to Jerumus “DON’T DO THAT, EVEN IF THEY KILL US WE WILL SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN IN HEAVEN.” The soldiers were mad and asked Jerumus one more time and he said, “I CAN’T!” with the first bullet the wife went down. Again they asked, and again he said, “I CAN’T!” and with another bullet, the second child went down. And with another bullet the third child laid in blood before his father right along his mother and brother. With this completed the soldiers walked away and left Jerumus all alone with his dead family. Jerumus was heart broken and devastated. This man shone like a star in this crooked and twisted world of sin holding on to the mighty power of God’s Word and the hope that is found in it. PAUSE.
This past Wednesday, while in St. Louis I went out for supper with my friend Roland Lettner (The host of the afternoon show on KFUO, St. Louis). He asked if he could bring few friends to meet me. “Yes” was my response. At the dinner table I met Andy Whaley a pastor from Plano, TX. He shared his story. 3 years ago Pastor Whaley got married to a beautiful young lady Jen. Jen got pregnant and in her first trimester with the aid of the ultrasound, the doctors realized something was terribly wrong with the baby. The baby had Down Syndrome and other major complications. The doctors consulted with the Whaley’s and informed them that they should abort the pregnancy. They would give them sometime to visit alone and then wait for their decision. Pastor Whaley said, “No need to deliberate over this, the pregnancy will NOT be terminated, for this child is a marvelous creation of the heavenly Father”. Over the next six months, the doctors again and again asked the Whaley’s to abort and each time they said, “NO!” When Katy was born she had much more complications than anticipated. She also had a hole in her heart. Her father baptized her on the spot and she went to the operation table immediately. For three weeks Katy lived on this earth, but now she lives in heaven with her real father. Pastor and Jen Whaley lived like the stars in this crooked and twisted world giving testimony that life is precious even if so called expert think other wise.
Beloved in Christ, Holy Scriptures is filled with examples of men and women who lived their lives as the children of God and shined like the stars in their crooked and twisted generation. People like Abraham, Joseph, Nathan and Ruth to mention but few.
But what about us? Are we taking the words of the Apostle Paul to heart and shining with the bright light of the Gospel in this dark world? Are we making a difference in our society or is the society affecting us? Do we live like bright lights or like dark clouds? When people see us, do they realize that we are the children of the heavenly Father, or the slaves of satan? When people see you, hear you, work with you do they know that you are a Christian one who takes the Word of God to heart and live by it?
Indeed we haven’t always lived like shining stars. At times we lived our lives like dark clouds. We at times shut our ears to the cries of those who are massacred on the altar of abortion for convenience sake. At times we treat the aged as useless and insignificant. At times we treat the handicapped as a burdened rather than a blessing. May God forgive us for our many sins.
But not the Savior—our Morning Star.” During this Epiphany Season we come to realize that His life on earth was shining brightly. His place of birth was indicated by the bright star that shone above Bethlehem. He shined like a star when He was twelve and taught the teachers of the Law in the temple. He shined like a star on the Mount of Transfiguration before His disciples. He shined like the stars when He healed the many sick and raised the dead. But our Savior’s lights never shone as brightly as on that dark and deadly Friday outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Having beat him, spat on him, mocked him and nailed him to the cross He continued to shine in this dark world. From the cross the light shined with all of its glory as He endured the wrath of God and the punishment of hell for us. The Son of God shined upon this crooked and twisted world with His acts of mercy and grace by doing what we often don’t do. He never remained silent of the injustices of this world. He never closed His eyes to the evil of this world. He never shut His ears to the cries of His children. On the contrary He lived His life as the bright beam of Light and hope in this dark and dead world so that those who believe in Him might live in that light and shine like Him in this place.
Hear me well brothers and sisters in Christ—I WANT TO ASSURE YOU TODAY THAT ALL OF YOUR SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN—regardless of what that sin is, Christ’s death has atoned you. He has died for the sin of abortion, adultery, gossip, denial of the faith, treating others like dirt with unkind and uncaring words. Don’t leave this place burdened by sin. Know for certain God has forgive you ALL OF YOUR SIN because His Son Jesus the heaven-sent Savior died for all of them and rose again to assure you they are all forgiven.
The Bright Morning Star our Savior has called us to shine like the stars in this crooked and twisted world. He has called us to make a difference in the dark recess of our family, church, community and nation. He wants us as His beloved children to diagnose with the bright light of the Gospel the sin that separates us from Him and puts us to death. Our morning Star calls us to shine with the bright beam of hope so that we can glorify our heavenly Father with the work that we do.
What a privilege the Lord gives us today as His beloved children to shine in this crooked and twisted world. What an awesome blessing the Lord gives us each day as his stars in this world to shine with the power of the Gospel leading others to see in the crucified Son of God life and hope and light and love.
I pray, on this Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, that we would speak up and stand up in defending the unborn; protect the aged and infirmed and make a difference in the lives of those who are still captives of the devil and living in the darkness of sin. God grant it for Christ’s sake who is our bright Morning Star. Amen.
Now the peace…