A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

CONFESSION and FORGIVENESS

Gathering Song            “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty”            red book # 533

GREETING

KYRIE                                                                                  red book page 98 (set 1)

Canticle of Praise                                                            red book page 101(set 1)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

ISAIAH 55:10-13

PSALM 65:1-13

ROMANS 8:1-11

MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23

SERMON                                                                      Pastor Chris Halverson

Dear Christian Siblings,

 

I pray to God  that I have not left you in despair.

I ended my last letter with you lamenting the infection of both the Law and our Flesh by that Parasite, Sin.

But know this—Christ’s coming has scrambled sin, in order that the Spirit might move in.

It has acted as an anti-Parasitic—chasing out Sin from all things. You flesh, once hellish, may be Holy.

Christ came in the Flesh, flesh like yours and like mine—that we all might have a holiness like his. And so, there is no condemnation! Through the power of the Spirit Christ Jesus is in you!

 

Not only that, he fulfilled the Law, which Sin would not allow, and as such, by his frustration of Sin’s hold there, the Law is made whole—Disinfected and filled too with the Spirit.

Therefore, you are now in the Spirit and the Spirit in you, and the Law is now a Law of Spirit.

Wow, you may live the Law, you might inhabit your flesh—both of these in a Spiritual way!

 

Let’s go back to another metaphor, you were enslaved to Sin, but the Spirit is now your adoption papers—you are not only freed, but made a child in the household of God.

That doesn’t do it for you? Well, maybe you have better men in your day than in mine… In my time men had children everywhere, but rarely were they fathers to them. It was only the rare child who would be adopted—for they were the man’s favorite—they became his heir.

So too, you are adopted—you receive God’s favor—you are Christ’s heir! You, through the power of the Spirit, may cry out as Christ did—“Father! Father!” To God, our first parent.

 

Yet, I can hear, even through the vastness of time and space—there is some harumphing going on at these simple statements. And it is fair that you consider my words carefully. That you think a bit about my proclamation that you are disinfected—free to follow the Law of the Spirit, Adopted as highly favored children of God, blessed among a big and growing family of God—you say sure, but those are just words… it often doesn’t feel like that—the Spirit has not launched me into a perfect paradise… It seems that all these things are still far from me!

To this I respond—exactly!

In fact, the Spirit makes you realize that—the Spirit infects you with longing—with hope—you note the chasm between the world as it is, and as it should be.

You shoulder too, the sweeping disparity in your soul between Saint and Sinner!

In short, you notice that time and our flesh conspire, you notice these great divides, both within you and outside of you. You notice…

You notice, that too is of God—that uncomfortable space between it all, is filled with Spirit.

If you saw everything in yourself and the world around you—as all right, when it isn’t—then you’d have much to fear! Then you’d be lost to your Sin infection—but no! No, you know the needs of the world, the absence in your soul! That is the Spirit moving you!

Moving you to cry out—to pray! Pray for the gap between intention and actuality—pray for the tears in your soul, that they may become balm.

 

What then ought we say about all these things? About the liberation of our Flesh and the Conduct now allowed under the Law of the Spirit? About our first cry as Children of God? About the tensions pulled taut in this world as it is being redeemed by God? What ought we say when the Spirit speaks through us with glad but strange prayers, which we on our own are unable to pray?

In all this—God is for us, so who might be against us? God has given his own Son to us, so is not everything ours? To the mad barks of judgement against us, let us remember it is God our Father who is the only judge. When all condemn—let us remember it is all except Jesus Christ, who does not condemn, but instead speaks well of us—and that is all that matters!

I admit, that the tension of this world pulls us to the breaking point—hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword—yes even slaughter—but the Spirit also points us to the conquest of all these things done by God for us!

Death, sure it looms, life itself—heavier than we’d like, powers beyond our control twist us this way then that, our fate and inclinations attempt to imprison—but it is my conviction that none of these may separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen!

 

HYMN of the DAY                   “As Rain from the Clouds”                  red book # 508

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS

Also, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, red book # 679, red book # 681

Sending

Blessing

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG                  “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing”                red book # 547

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

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