Wednesday, January 25, 2012

“Asked to Care and Get Involved” Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (Jonah 3:1-3)

S-1292 SAE/3B 1/22/12 Hymns: (O) #729; #664; (S) #750; LS #633; #629; #623; (C) #737 LSB

Text: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

Theme: “Asked to Care and Get Involved” Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (Jonah 3:1-3)

Question: “How concerned are you?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is the O.T. Lesson: Then the Word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the Word of the LORD. (Jonah 3:1-3a).

You who are loved, cherished and sought after, in 1985, a young couple Bob and Pam moved from Gainesville, FL to the Philippines, where they served as Christian missionaries. Hoping to expand their family, they prayed for a fifth child. Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in contaminated food or drink. She went into a coma and was treated with strong antibiotics before they discovered she was pregnant.

Doctors urged her to abort the baby for her own personal safety, and told her the strong medicines had caused irreversible damage to the fetus. She refused the abortion, and cited her Christian faith. Pam said the doctors didn’t think of it as a life, they thought of the child growing inside her as a mass of fetal tissue. While pregnant, Pam nearly lost the baby four times, but refused to consider abortion. She recalled making a pledge to God with her husband: If you will give us a son, we’ll name him Timothy, and we’ll make him a preacher of Your Word.

Pam ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed, and eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy August 14, 1987. Pam’s youngest son is indeed a preacher. He preaches in prisons, makes hospital visits, and serves with his father’s ministry in the Philippines as they return each ear with 50 of their employees to care for the orphanage.

This woman and her husband cared enough to keep the baby because it is more than just a blob of tissue—He is a GIFT from God Himself. Timmy as Pam calls Him went on to play football for the Florida Gators and in 2007, was named the Heisman Trophy winner; and now is the Quarter back for the Denver, Broncos.......... Pam’s son is Tim Tebow.

On this day, as we observe Sanctity of human life Sunday, the Holy Spirit reminds us as God’s redeemed and forgiven children of our role and responsibilities to care enough to get involved in the lives of others. We are called to speak out and stand out against every human injustice—to defend, rescue and deliver (as the picture on the bulletin shows) those who have been held in the bondage of sin and share the Good News that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

The Christmas story is nothing short of the greatest CARE story ever written. Our loving and compassionate God cared enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ to the manger of Bethlehem; to live the perfect life as He walked the dusty roads of Palestine and be led to Mt. Calvary on the gallows of the Cross to bring about deliverance and rescue and give us hope of eternal life with Him.

After His mission of winning the victory over Satan, sin and the grave, the Savior of mankind, before leaving the world commissioned His disciples to care enough and get involved by taking the Gospel to every corner of the globe. PAUSE.

Today’s Word from Jonah 3 shows us the God of love who cares deeply and passionately and gets involved in the lives of His people lest they be destroyed. It is a story of love and life, rescue and redemption, deliverance and salvation.

Jonah, somewhere between Chapter 1:3 and Chapter 3:1 realizes that he was dead wrong and disobeyed God. Jonah was called by God to go and preach to the people of Nineveh that God was going to destroy the city because of its evil and wickedness. Nineveh is wicked, and powerful, so Jonah is afraid for his life. Instead of taking the next camel train to Nineveh, he jumps on a ship and heads for Tarshish, which is at the exact opposite end of the then known world. He is running from God, but God runs after him with a huge storm that threatens to break up the ship. The sailors figure out that Jonah is the problem, they ask him what they should do, and he says that they must throw him overboard into the raging sea. They don’t want to do it, but the storm is so bad that they finally throw him over. The storm stops as Jonah sinks to the bottom. God doesn’t let him drown, but sends a fish to come and swallow him. Jonah is three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. While he is there he prays, and admits his wrong.

The fish spits him up on to dry land, where God calls him again to go to Nineveh. This time he obeys, and he goes and preaches to them. By the Spirit’s power we see the care and concern of these lost people. And in this story we see the power of the Word in two great examples of repentance; first in the life of the prophet Jonah and then in the Ninevite’s that he is prophesying to.

Repentance is brought about when the Word—the powerful Word of the Lord is preached and proclaimed in all of its purity. Repentance causes us to realize that we have sinned against our holy God and we need His grace to forgive us all of our sins. Repentance causes us to call upon God to Defend, Rescue and Deliver us from that which holds us captives—sin. And repentance is offered in the name of the caring Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Today, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we too, are called to care. We are called to stand up and speak out and defend the weak and helpless. We are called to rescue from the abortion mills, those who would be destroyed because they are not life, but a blob of tissue as they are often considered. We are called to teach and preach against the lies of the devil that has benefited many through the abortion industry; and today, you and I are called to care and get involved.

Sadly, we who are precious in God’s sight—the blood-bought, don’t ALWAYS do all we can to defend the weak and helpless. We don’t care enough to get involved. We say, “I don’t have enough time. My schedule demands too much of my time.” We don’t pray enough. We don’t support pregnancy crises centers with our time and treasures. Oh, yes, we as Lutheran Christians have a great record on cherishing life. The fact that for the past 14 years you have supported the Bike For Life ministry through prayers and financial aid speaks volume that we are pro-life. By the grace of God we say “Thank You Father for allowing us to care.”

But we can do more. We can go against the tide and speak the truth in love that all life is precious in the womb or out of the womb. We can stand up and speak up and support with our time and efforts those who have made one wrong choice so that they don’t make more bad choices. We can care enough to teach, preach and reach in the name of the caring Christ to those in need.

I’m reminded of my experience when I came to this country. Even though I was born in Nazareth, grew up on the slopes of Mt. Carmel, swam often in the Sea of Galilee, and visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem many times, I didn’t know much about the Savior, His grace and love for me the sinner; until a young lady invited me to church. Sue cared enough about me, took the time to ask me to join her. I was happy to go but happier to hear the Good News that Jesus came to save me—ME no good bum. My father was amazed when I returned home, so much that he said, “Son, I don’t know what happened to you! You left as a devil and came back as an angel!” Someone cared. I read someplace: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know that you CARE PAUSE.

Today, beloved in the Lord as we gather around Word and Sacrament I remind you to be bold and courageous as Pam and her husband were. I exhort you to look to Him who gives us the power to speak for Him and care in His name for others. But above all, I point you to the One who cared enough and got involved in YOUR life—Jesus the Christ.

Unlike Jonah, Jesus didn’t take the first camel caravan out of Palestine, but heard His Father’s call, went in His name and did what God called Him to do—offer His life as a payment for all sinners—Jonah’s, the Ninevehite’s, you and me. And by the grace of God and His Spirit we leave this place empowered to care and get involved. Amen.

Now the peace…


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