Sunday, January 30, 2005

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, January 30, 2005, 1 Cor 1:26-31

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, January 30, 2005
St. John’s, Burt ~ Our Savior, Swea City
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
President Lincoln once said Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. He’s reflecting the idea that nobody really wants to be called a fool. Nobody wants to be thought of as foolish. But there was a time when he was called a fool, and he didn’t mind. During the Civil War Lincoln visited one of the forts north of Washington during the heat of battle. While inspecting the front lines he asked to be shown where the enemy was. When they were pointed out Lincoln stood to get a better view, thus making his tall frame, beard and black hat the perfect recognizable target. Under a hale of bullets a junior officer grabbed his arm and pulled him from harms way, shouting “Get down, you fool!” The president was reported to have replied. “I’m glad to see you know how talk to a civilian.” It was the president’s first and last visit to an active battle front.

In not so many words, Paul calls the Christians who are members of the small Corinthian church, foolish. But like President Lincoln, they probably weren’t upset. Paul was clarifying the way that God works. He wanted the Corinthians to recognize that God does things differently than people would do them. He especially wanted them to recognize God’s work in their midst. He begins by reminding them who they were before God called them to faith. He wanted them to remember where they came from. It was not uncommon for Christians those days to be primarily from the lower classes. Many were former slaves and even current slaves. Many were poor and un-influential. It’s not the kind of group you would gather together to be a major force of influence in any town. Paul’s words tell the story: …not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth… and still there were wealthy people who were part of God’s family at Corinth. Note that Paul says “not many”; not “not any.” He includes them with an “m.” And yet, Paul reminds them that God doesn’t recognize social status. He calls all people into his family, regardless of their standing. Those who become a part, realize that all the things that people boast in, wealth, education, prestige, and moral standing don’t count for anything in God’s sight. Instead of boasting in those things that Paul calls them “rubbish” (Phil 3:4-10), Christians boast in Jesus (1 Cor 1:31). Christians know that nothing they have done can ever make them right with God. That’s what Paul means when he calls the Corinthians foolish. He means foolish in the eyes of everyone else.
God chose the foolish things to shame the wise, Paul says. Paul is emphasizing that God doesn’t consider human merit or human ideas in his calculations of what is important and how he is going to work. And you can see it easily with a quick look at the people Jesus hung out with. His followers came from tax-collectors, prostitutes, the sick and the poor. One of the Pharisee’s primary complaints against Jesus was that he received sinners, and not only that, but he had the gall to eat with them. (Luke 15:2) It went against the way they thought God worked. It went against their belief that people got connected with God by working to clean up their life first. Jesus shamed them by loving the people they deemed unlovable and, in fact, doing what they should have been doing. The very thought of helping those people was foolish to them.
But Jesus didn’t just start doing things like that out of the blue. The history of God working in the world is full if foolish examples. There are two good examples mentioned in the Old Testament lesson for today. (Micah 6:1-8) God is reminding his people, the Israelites, about what he had done for them. For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. (Micah 6:4, ESV) Egypt was a superpower. But the God, the God of slaves showed that he was The True God. He used foolish slaves to show his true nature to save. You and I would have chosen the grandeur and prestige of the King of Egypt to show God’s power.
And then there’s the reference to Balaam the son of Beor. (Micah 6:5) I don’t know if you remember this story but it’s a good one: (See Numbers 22) after the freed slaves, the Children of Israel, had wandered in the desert for a while and were finally ready to occupy the land that God had promised them, they needed to cross the land of Moab. The King of Moab wasn’t very happy to oblige. He called a wise man to help him, a general prophet called Balaam. “Curse these Israelites for me, so I can defeat them.” But Balaam was told by God in a dream not to do it. But because he stood to become very wealthy from the deal, Balaam took two of his servants and began the journey on his donkey. God made the donkey see what Balaam couldn’t. God had set and angel in the road to kill them. So the donkey stopped and refused to go on. Balaam beat the donkey in anger. But the donkey only trapped Balaam’s foot between himself and a rock on the narrow road. Balaam beat him again but the donkey still refused to move and lay down on the road. Balaam beat him all the more. After the third beating the donkey spoke up. “What have I ever done to you that you beat me in this way?” Balaam seeming to not be the least surprised at a talking donkey, replied, “You’ve made a fool of me! If I had a sword you’d be dead.” And the donkey answered back. “I’ve been your donkey all your life. Have I ever acted this way before? Don’t you think I have a good reason?” And at that moment God allowed Balaam to see the angel with the drawn sword in his hand. (Num 22:31) He repented immediately and promised to do whatever God wanted. There’s a song by Don Francisco that’s all about this account. In the song He talks about the foolishness of God and how he chooses what he will to do his work. The song ends with the line:
The Lord's the one who makes the choice of the instrument He's usin'
We don't know the reasons and the plans behind His choosin'
So when the Lord starts usin' you don't you pay it any mind
He 'could have used the dog next door if He'd been so inclined

(Copyright Don Francisco; This song appears on the albums: Beautiful to Me Got to Tell Somebody)

And of course nothing screams foolishness, in human eyes, more than God becoming man, for the specific purpose of dying the death of a common criminal. But Paul wants the Corinthians to remember it is the message of that foolishness that has made all the difference for them.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, ESV)
God’s purpose in choosing the poor in spirit (Matt 5:3), like the Corinthian Christians is, as Paul says, “so that none may boast.” (See also; Eph 2:8-9; Rom 3:27-28) There is no room for boasting in human achievement in light of what God has done through Jesus Christ. All the Corinthian Christians had to do was remember who they were and where they came from and they knew they had no room for boasting, they were saved because of Jesus and only Jesus.
My dear Christian friends; in some ways we are nothing like the Corinthian Christians. In fact, as a group we are very influential in our community. We have mayors and city council members and civic group leaders who are members here. There is one person in town that continually refers to us as the Lutheran Mafia. She means that because we hold all the positions of power, whatever the Lutherans want the Lutherans get. Using Paul’s words we might say, not many of you are not influential.
This is where Paul’s words should strike us right between the eyes. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; (1 Corinthians 1:27b, ESV) Paul’s words to us are like the soldier’s words to Lincoln. “Get down you fools!” Because of who we are and where we come from it is very easy for us to lose sight of Jesus and begin to boast in our own accomplishments. Like those Pharisees we forget what God has given us to do and look down our noses at the people in this community that God has given for us to serve. It’s easy for us to tell ourselves that we’re better than the people who don’t get to church much and pat ourselves on the back for being the financial backbone of the church. Or even more to the point, looking back at the way we used to do church and the way the things used to be and forgetting that this church is here not because of anything our parents did, and not because of anything we have done, but because of the foolishness of God. This church’s future isn’t in us and our ability to make it work, but in the message of Jesus Christ and him crucified for the sins of the whole world. We are here to boast in Jesus Christ, not in this church.
That’s the foolishness of God again isn’t it? We want to think that it’s what we do. God wants us to remember that it’s what he does. Through Baptism God has called you to be part of his body. Consider your calling… who were you without Jesus? A lost and condemned person; a sinful person deserving God’s anger and punishment. Yet through the “weak” and “foolish” acts of God in Jesus Christ you have been saved from that. Jesus death on the cross is even enough to forgive the sin of boasting that we so easily fall into. He forgives the sin of feeling superior, and forgetting why we are here. Paul says [God] is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30, ESV) Just as God saved the Israelites from slavery and death in Egypt he saved you from slavery to sin, and the punishment that results. He dose it through his sacrifice that is enough to forgive the sins of the whole world.
I think of the story of a family house that caught in a fire. The two children were saved from death by a stranger who risked his life and suffered serious burns on his hands. The parents didn’t escape. When it came time to adopt the children their savior stated his case without words by showing the scares he received by saving them. Some people might think it was foolish of the man to risk his life for two children he didn’t know, but not the children he saved.
Jesus does more than risk his life for us. He gives it. His bleeding body on the cross saves us from our own foolishness. His blood washes away all our sin. His death wins for us eternal life. His resurrection promises that life to us. What is there left for us to boast in? Only Jesus; only his cross; only his resurrection; only his choosing foolish things like you and me to be his own. Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31, ESV)
We boast in the Lord when we remember that it is God’s work through His Word and Sacraments and the foolishness of preaching the Good News about Jesus, that God uses to call people into his kingdom. We boast in the Lord when we point people to Jesus as their only Savior from sin, even when they think it’s foolish. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Jan. 16, 2004, John 1:29

Second Sunday after Epiphany
St. John’s, Burt ~ Our Savior, Swea City
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As many of you know my daughter Hannah is in Kindergarten this year. There is one thing that she anticipated more than anything else when she knew she was going to be in kindergarten. There was one Kindergarten institution that she looked forward to more than any other. It was Show and Tell. She couldn’t wait to go to school with something, anything, to use for Show and Tell. It has become a little ritual as she places the prize she is going to Show her classmates into her book bag. The joy of anticipation is on her face. This week it was a tooth she had to have pulled, but she’s also taken pictures of her family, stuffed animals that she was given, and even a game she got for Christmas. I can just imagine her standing in front of the class holding up, what-ever-it-is and saying, “Look! Here is something I want to tell you about!”

That’s John the Baptizer. He has something he knows about and wants Show and Tell. It is a prize, a gift, something wonderful, to Show and Tell. There is a sense of excitement in John’s words. It’s an excitement that bursts off of the page in the words, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Now, maybe you don’t quite see the excitement in John’s language. Maybe the world “Behold” doesn’t quite convey it to you. Maybe a good modern translation would be “Give this guy the once over!” “Eyeball this!” or “Looky here!” How ever you translate it John is excited about what he is pointing to. His excitement comes from who it is that he is pointing to. “Look! Behold! The Lamb of God!” he says, “who takes away the sin of the world.”

John sums up everything he knows about Jesus in that short and meaningful sentence. He calls Jesus, “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” At first it might not mean much to us, but for the people who had their feet in the water around John, it was full of meaning. Saying something was the Lamb of God automatically carried with it some very important ideas.

Every year, families would gather together for a celebration. The main course for the meal was a lamb. But it was a very special lamb. Three days before, the man of the house would go to select the perfect lamb for the meal. And not just perfect “for their family,” like we try to pick the perfect Christmas tree for the living room, but perfect without any marks or blemishes, spots or sores. It was to be a perfect little lamb. Once selected, this lamb would become one of the family, for the next three days. It would sleep and play with the children, move about the living spaces of the house, and eat at the table. It was to be loved and cared for as any other person who lived there. In fact, the family was expected to become attached to it because on the fourth day, in the afternoon, the lamb was taken to the temple, to be killed as a sacrifice for the family. I’m sure there were many tears shed, but the lamb it had to be done. In the temple, its blood was spilled into a bowl and splattered on the altar by a priest. The lamb was a substitute death, a member of the family, given in place of the firstborn of the family.

It was all done to remember how God had delivered them from slavery to Egypt. After nine other plagues, the King of Egypt still refused to allow the Hebrews to leave. God’s next step would be devastating. The first-born male of every family in Egypt would forfeit his life. God’s angel of death would cover the whole country and kill them all. But, a way was provided for God’s faithful people to be spared, a way for the angel of death to pass-over their houses. The blood of a perfect lamb spread on the doorposts of the house told the angel a death had already occurred. A substitute lamb was killed for the sake of the household. The bloody plague convinced Egypt that the slaves should be released. And God commanded that His people observe the sacrifice of the lambs every year. They were to keep the Passover in mind. God would do it again.

That day on the banks of the Jordan when John did his Show and Tell he may not have completely understood how it would all come about, but he did know that Jesus would take away the sin of the world. He knew that Jesus was God’s servant sent for that very purpose (In Isaiah 53, the prophet Isaiah makes a connection between the Suffering Servant of God and a sacrificial lamb). His excitement about Jesus was in knowing that the days of human slavery to sin were coming to an end.

John’s Show and Tell, tells us a lot about that, too. Look at how John talks about sin. He says the Lamb takes away the “sin” of the world, not the “sins” of the world. He’s not just talking about the bad things that you and I do. He’s talking about the root cause of those things we do. If we think about St. Paul’s words, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 ESV) It’s not the “all have sinned” part; it’s the; falling “short of the glory of God.” This is what John knew very well. The whole human race is in a state of rebellion toward God, a condition of separation from God called spiritual death. But we would rather talk about our sins, because no matter how often we have done bad things there is always someone who has done worse. And much of the time we think that we are in control of the bad things we’d like to do. We think them, we want to do them, but we manage somehow to avoid them. Our sins are something we live with, but we believe we keep them mostly in check. We like to see ourselves as mostly good. Once in awhile we fall of the wagon and sin. And we always have excuses. “I was overworked or overtired. I need the money. I have to think about myself once in a while.” We rarely ever blame ourselves for even the smallest act of sin. If there had been a camera in the Garden of Eden, the picture of Adam blaming Eve for his act of sin, would have look just like us.

Our real problem is sin. That is the corruption of the good human nature that God created us to be. We see the results of it all around us. Many through the ages have commented on the evil nature of humans. Cicero a Roman politician and philosopher wrote, “Even if you drive nature away with a pitchfork, still it continually returns” (Epist. I, 10, 24)[1] But it is only in God’s Word that we get the real picture of how bad the condition really is. Ephesians 2:1-2 says that following the course of the world, people are dead in their trespasses and sins. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Ps 51:5, ESV); … for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. (Ge 8:21, ESV); For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Ro 8:7, ESV) In fact, Jesus tells us that we are salves to sin. (John 8:34) That’s where those things we do, the sins that we excuse really come from. Even if we could stop them completely, we’d still have a problem. We are slaves to our sinful nature. Bad trees bear bad fruit. (Matt 7:17)

Now you can see why John’s Show and Tell made him so excited. He was looking at God’s way of taking care of our slavery to sin. He was looking at the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Jesus, The Lamb of God, has much in common with that Passover lamb that would have been on John hearers minds. He was perfect with out blemish. Not a slave to sin like we are. He was perfect and holy. He didn’t do sins. His nature was completely good. He is everything God wants a person to be, what God wants us to be, that we never can live up to. And He came and lived among us, right where we live. He lived to die. There is really only one way to end slavery, particularly our slavery to sin. Our sin requires that we forfeit our lives. We have to die. It took death to release the slaves in Egypt, too. God’s angel of death stalks the world to take us. But God provides a way of escape. He provides a substitute Lamb. The blood of a perfect, spotless, sinless Lamb is spilled and sprinkled on the beams of a cross. Jesus Christ died for the sake of God’s people and they are freed from their slavery to sin.

That’s really what John’s Show and Tell is all about. That’s why there’s an exclamation point at the end of the sentence. So what is it that makes it an exclamation point for us? You and I are freed from the slavery of that sinful nature that pushes us to sin. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Co 5:17, ESV) That’s God’s Word again telling us what is ours through faith in Jesus substitute death for us. And again, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:22-24, ESV) It is St. Paul again who tells us exactly how that happens for you and me. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Ga 3:27, ESV)

Ever since you were baptized the perfect, spotless, sinless Lamb of God is the controlling factor in your life, not your sinful nature. It may be in there still poking up and trying drag you back into sin, but you have put on Jesus. He takes away the sin of the world. He takes away your sin.
Isn’t that a Show and Tell that’s worth getting excited about? I think so. And that’s the other thing about this Show and Tell. You can do it, too. All John did was point to Jesus and say what he knew to be true about Him. “Hey look! That’s the Lamb of God, who God has sent to take away the sin of the world!” John didn’t worry about what people would say about him. He didn’t worry about how many people around him already knew about Jesus. It didn’t matter to him that he was knee deep in muddy water. John just pointed to Jesus. That’s our job. We are to Show and Tell about Jesus wherever we live and work and play. Because wherever we are, there are people who are salves to sin. And Jesus is the only one who takes it away. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1]Pieper, F. (1999, c1950, c1951, c1953). Christian Dogmatics (electronic ed.). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Festival of the Epiphany of Our Lord, January 9, 2004 (observed), Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany, January 9, 2004 (observed)
St. John’s, Burt ~ Our Savior, Swea City
Matthew 2:1-12
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
It’s like the final chapter of the Christmas story. We’ve come to “We Three Kings” and Christmas is over. At least that’s kind of the way we think about it. Traditionally, after Epiphany, Christmas trees can come down now. Decorations can be put away. The little stables go back in their storage boxes to be brought out again next December. This part of the story seems to put a big red bow on the whole thing. Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem to pay their taxes; Jesus is born in a stable because there is not room in the inn; the angels appear to the shepherds; the shepherds visit: they represent the poor and the Jews. The “Wise Men” visit led by a star: they represent the rich and the gentiles. (I expect we more often see ourselves as the Kings rather than the Shepherds, after all Kings don’t smell.) Still, everyone has acknowledged Jesus for who he is. Christmas is “officially” over, now it’s time for the “January blahs.”

But there is a part of the story that we see here in this text that we might sometimes just skip over. Maybe we do it on purpose; maybe we just don’t want to corrupt the sweetness of the stable with blood and death. But the truth of the matter is that the visit of these Magi from the East stirs things up. That’s the very thing the text tells us about King Herod. When Magi from the East entered Herod’s Palace and asked where the new king was, Herod was troubled (literally “stirred up”) and all Jerusalem with him. It’s not that the people of Jerusalem were worried about the new baby who would become king. They were troubled about their current king. You see, although Herod the Great was a good political leader in his early years, here at the end of his life he had grown very paranoid. Every time he felt threatened, every time he thought someone was set to sit in his throne, the body count went up. In order to stop what he saw as threats to his throne, Herod had already killed three of his sons, his favorite wife, his mother-in-law, and many others. One historian of the day tells us, in fact, that when Herod knew he was close to death, he ordered thousands of Jewish leaders killed at the moment of his death. Herod knew that as an very unpopular King, who was Roman installed puppet, his death would be a time for rejoicing. He wanted to give them a reason to mourn. Although in history he his know as Herod the Great, it wouldn’t be totally out of line to call him Herod the Terrible or even Herod the Horrible. I doubt the Magi knew what they were setting in motion. I doubt they knew the danger they were in with their visit, and even the danger they were bringing to the child they meant to worship. But the danger to Jesus was very real. Mary and Joseph and Jesus had to leave the country to be safe. When Herod the Terrible figured out that the Magi weren’t going to help him find the child, he struck out in anger (he was furious) and ordered all little babies boys of the Bethlehem area killed.
You see, the story of the Wise Men isn’t the sweet gentle story we usually think it is. It’s just another part of the story of Jesus that points toward the real reason He came. Jesus says it himself, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Mt 10:34, ESV) From the very beginning we see that Jesus came into a hostile world. From the very beginning we see that his coming isn’t a quaint children’s story but a real flesh and blood story about a real and dangerous world. This is our world, a world where children die by their parent’s hand even before they are born. This is our world where children are neglected and exploited and endangered by violence. This is our world, a world where thousands die because of uncontrollable nature, but thousands more die at by our own sinful hands.
Epiphany means “the showing,” or “making an appearance.” It’s not really about the Wise Men at all, although they play a central part of it. Epiphany, just like everything we talk about here, is about Jesus. It’s about God coming among us in our real and dangerous world. It’s about Him showing Himself to us and making it clear why He came. Even though Jesus’ visit in human flesh was immediately life-threatening to Him, it is life-saving for us.
The season of Epiphany brings it all into proper focus. Jesus birth was not an unusual birth into an unusual world. It was a remarkable birth into the usual, hostile world. That’s the revealing of God, that we see in Jesus. He knew the dangers. He knew the hostility that His coming would stir-up. And yet, He came all the same. He knew where the journey that began in the stable would take Him. That’s His great love for you, that the Baby in the manger had His eyes on the cross, and on you.
The problem is that when it comes to sin, we are no better than Herod the Horrible. He jealously guarded his throne. He wouldn’t tolerate even the Messiah to displace him. That’s the essence of sin: hostility toward God; desire to be apart from God; desire to be in control of our own lives. Don’t you and I show that in our lives? Don’t we struggle to do what we know is right? We keep God in a box, where we can keep a handle on Him, where we can hedge our bets, just in case we need a “higher power” when things get out of hand. Right here where He doesn’t interfere with the way we really want to live, the things we really want to do. Herod didn’t want Jesus to sit on his throne. There are times in our lives when we are guilty of the very same thing. Jesus, I can handle this, just let me take care of it myself. God, my sin isn’t so bad, there are others who are much worse, let me live the way I want to live. As sinful human beings we fit in this sinful world very well. It wants nothing to do with God. It wants nothing to do with God coming and taking charge. St. Paul tells us in Romans that “the sinful mind is hostile to God” (Rom 8:7 NIV). But the baby that was visited by the Wise Men changed all that. Instead of enemies we have been made friends. St. Paul says again, While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Rom 5:10).
I don’t know if the Magi knew what they were looking at when they found the newborn King. They did say they had come to worship Him. Weather they knew it or not they had found God in human flesh. They had found the way that God provided to remove sin and hostility toward God from all people. Jesus not only took on our human flesh, but he carried human sin to the cross. You’ll notice on the cover of the bulletin that there’s a picture of Jesus being baptized. Well, that’s the regular text for today (Epiphany 1: Matthew 3:13-17). You can picture Jesus going down into dirty water and sucking up all the filth into himself. How did the water get dirty? From you and me. Our baptism washes away our sin for Jesus to take up. From there he takes He takes that sin to a bloody death, a death that hostility toward God deserves, my death, your death, for my sin, and for your sin.
That’s what Epiphany shows us. It shows us God revealed in human flesh to be the sin bearer. It shows us God’s love for us that compelled Him to remove our sin, no matter what the cost.
There’s that hymn “We Three Kings.” It is a very complete hymn. It tells all about who Jesus is. It shows us the infant child is not only a King but “King and God and Sacrifice.” That’s the whole story. That’s the King they were seeking. That’s the King they found. That’s the King they worshipped. And so do we.
There’s something else this visit of the Magi shows us. It shows us a search. The search that begins at the stable but it doesn’t end with the cross. Jesus rose from the dead, not as some ghostly spirit but in the very same flesh and blood that died. The search for Jesus ends in an empty tomb. But it is there that a new search begins. God has been gracious to give us the life that He won through Jesus, to connect us to Him through Baptism and faith in what He has done for us. He has called us to search, not for Him, He has already found us. He calls us to search for those who don’t know Jesus, and haven’t been shown Him yet. And unlike the Wise Men we don’t have traipse across a desert in our search. It begins with the person who lives next door to you. You see, in our real and dangerous world, it’s not hard to find people that need to be shown the love of God in Jesus. God has put you right were you are to help your neighbors. When you are helping them they might just ask you why. And you can do the Epiphany thing and show them Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.