S-1207 15SAP/3C 9/05/10 Hymns (O) #462; S#23 SOD; (C) #416
Texts: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-35
Theme: “A Tale To Tell” (Philemon 9)
Question: “Do you like to tell stories?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for The 15th Sunday After Pentecost is from the Epistle lesson: “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” (Philemon 9)
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved, telling stories is an art that draws many people. We love to hear stories. Sad stories grip our hearts and cause us to weep. Good stories make our hearts glad. Love stories warm our hearts, and remind us of our love. Great stories capture our attention. We love telling and hearing stories, because stories engage us on many fronts.
Please listen to this amazing story. Last March in Sydney Australia David and Kate Ogg were in the hospital unexpectedly. Kate gave birth to premature twins at 27 weeks, which is dangerous for babies. Emily was fine when she was born, and after 20 minutes of working on Jamie, doctors pronounced him DEAD.
After declaring him dead, nurses laid little Jamie on Ogg’s bare chest so that they may say their final farewell. What happened next is nothing short of a miracle. After five minutes, Jamie began moving, but the doctor said it was a reflex. She continued to hold him and caress him, at one time she even took a little breast milk on her finger and placed it on his lips and she felt his lips move. She called the doctor to come see what was happening, but he wouldn’t come saying the bay is dead and she is imagining things. However, for the next two hours, she continued to do what her instincts told her—she kept cuddling the beautiful baby. Eventually Jamie opened his eyes and they stayed open. What an amazing and wonderful sight it must have been to see.
Kate held her baby for two hours skin to skin while talking to him and telling him about the world. The official name of what the Ogg’s practiced is called “Kangaroo care,” which is skin to skin contact between the parents and the premature baby to help them. The doctor could not believe it when he arrived back at the bedside to see the living baby.
Now, that is a story that engages the heart and mind to see not only the love of a mother to her child—cuddling, caressing and talking to him, but the love of God to that child as well and to revive him and save him. PAUSE.
Today, the apostle Paul from a Roman prison engages us in this short letter of an amazing story as well; a personal story that he experienced through a runaway slave—Onesimus--whose name means usefull. Onesimus belonged to Paul’s companion Philemon who was a convert to Christianity because he heard the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection through Paul’s lips.
And in this story, Paul shares these loving words with his brother in the faith saying: “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” On account of Philemon Paul was comforted and refreshed because of all the work he was doing for the Lord.
Paul’s heart was touched that even while he is away rotting in prison, he could find joy and happiness as the story of Christ continues to go forth through the labors of others. Now Paul wants to send Onesimus back to his master, but not as a slave, but as a fellow worker and brother in the Lord. This is indeed a tale worthy to be told.
Onesimus, a slave man became free on account of hearing the story of Christ’s sacrificial death for his sins and the worlds; returns to his master to serve him with loyalty and love because he knows he belongs to another. As a brother in the Lord, he knows how useful he has become. And thus, returns not because he has too, but because he wants to serve his earthly master, and more importantly to serve His heavenly Master—Jesus Christ. PAUSE.
Paul tells us he derived much joy and comfort from the love of Philemon. This is not just any kind of love, but a love rooted in Christ, His cross and the empty tomb. A love that allows Philemon to forgive the runaway slave; Onesimus and take him back again. Now Onesimus is welcomed not as a slave but as a brother and fellow story teller of Jesus. Paul from Prison, Philemon the master and Onesimus the slave share something special with one another–the love of Jesus. This love is so rich and beautiful that they tell others about it.
Like Onesimus, we were slaves to sin, death and eternal hell. We were runaway slaves and useless to God. But because of God’s mercy in sending His Son to be the Mediator of the world, in dying our death on the cross, we have peace with God. Now we are free and have become useful to Him and His ministry.
We too, are fellow workers with these men. We too, have our tale to tell. How God for Christ sake has saved us from the destructive power of Satan and the punishment of hell. You, my brothers and sisters in Christ have a story to tell. The world needs to hear your side of the story—and what it is that Christ has done and continues to do in your life. Don’t be embarrassed to tell the tale that changed your life. Each one of you has been touched by the power of the Gospel in a special way. You have your own story that warms the heart and captures the mind. Use your story telling ability to convey that marvelous love story the Lord Jesus has given you to share with a world that needs to hear it.
Please, stop running away and being useless. Don’t permit Satan, or anyone else from hindering you to share your story. The world is not interested in these kinds of stories, but they need to hear it none-the-less. Your story is a story that needs to be told again and again; because Christ has given you such a beautiful story.
Remember my opening paragraph? I shared these thoughts with you. “Telling stories is an art that draws many people. We love to hear stories. Sad stories grip our hearts and cause us to weep. Good stories make our hearts glad. Love stories warm our hearts, and remind us of our love. Great stories capture our attention. We love telling and hearing stories, because stories engage us on many fronts.”
Today, I have tale to tell you that is nothing short of a miracle. It is not a once upon a time tale but once upon a cross TALE. The whole Bible is a compilation of great tales told by God to humanity to remind them that they are His chosen and beloved people. The tale that I am sharing with you today, is one that you have heard before, but is worth repeating again and again and told over and over—it is the story of our salvation.
Because of sin, we were pronounced dead in the sight of God—dead to God and dead in sin. We use to be useless but not anymore. For the Great Mediator, Jesus has pleased our cause before the Mercy Seat of God. Jesus, the Great Physician had a remedy for this death. On the cross of Calvary He hung naked for 6 hours. His warm body slowly gave way to coldness and death. Eventually He was put in a cold, dark grave and rose again on the third day.
But through His resurrected and warm body, He takes us close to His skin, caresses us and embraces us close to Him with His pierced hands. He gives us the milk of His Word to revive us. He gives us the body and blood to strengthen us. He gives us His message of mercy to comfort us. He gives us His compassion to sustain us. He gives us His forgiveness to cleanse us. He gives us His love to warm us. He gives us His ALL to reconcile us. Now that is a tale to tell.
In my opening story, I told you what the Ogg’s did was called “Kangaroo Care.” Through his mother’s touch, Jamie was revived. Today, I don’t share with you a “Kangaroo Care,” but a “Christ Care”—“A LOVE Care”—where Jesus draws us to Himself, holds us against His skin, never letting us go. God cared enough for you to revive you, restore you and redeem you. What an amazing and incredible story you have. A tale to tell the world. May the One who saved you, made you useful for His cause; bless you as you tell this comforting and incredible tale. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA