Saturday, March 14, 2009

1.Cor.1,18-25; Third Sunday during Lent; March 15, 2009;

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We are rather foolish, don't you think? I mean, honestly, we've given up a beautiful morning... we could be sleeping in... my body and mind have not yet agreed with the time change. Crawling out of bed in the morning has become quite a chore. Some of you might even rather be out playing golf… you probably need the practice... maybe he could shave of a stroke or two. Just think of all the things you could be getting done this morning…

What are we really doing here anyway? Repeating some old dusty words... and talking down about ourselves. It just doesn't seem wise to admit that we are 'by nature sinful and unclean.' I don’t think Norman Vincent Peale or pastor Schuller would approve. Wouldn't it be better to say that we had a poor childhood, or our parents abused us, it really isn't our fault that we do the things that we do. It would seem much more productive to talk about the things we do right.... It really doesn't seem very uplifting to listen to someone who you really don't know preach to you about things that are wrong with your life. And worse yet tell you you are a sinner. Sometimes it feels like pouring salt on the wounds... it can be like beating us when we're down. And some of those Lenten hymns just don't have much of an up theme do they. They seem to just drag on. It can all feel... well... foolish.

There are other things that go on in this place place that seem foolish too. Dropping money into that plate as it goes by. Don't you think that it's foolish to drop money into a bucket with a hole in it. The faster it goes in the faster it runs out...

Life is short, play hard! Makes a lot more sense than 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' I surely don't want to miss out on anything. I think it was Billy Joel who sang, "Only the Good Die Young." it was a ballad to Catholic girls who wait too long to 'fool around.' Doesn't it make more sense to test each other out before making a commitment like marriage. How do you really know someone unless you... well sleep with them for a while. It seems foolish to think that you can really get to know someone any other way.

Suffering is overrated. But somehow we end up talking a lot about it here. It seems foolish to think that pain is good. Oh sure we say, "no pain; no gain" but that's quite different from the pain of cancer, or a death in the family. If pain were good it wouldn't feel bad, it wouldn't hurt. It seems foolish not to avoid something that hurts. Isn't that why God invented pain.

I don't know about you... but I have never seen a miracle. I know of people who beat cancer, or were healed by doctors, but an out right miracle... I don't think so... nothing like the bible tells us, anyway. It is hard to believe that those things really happened, so long ago... Medical Science just doesn't back it up.

And there is so much more... the sprinkling of water on a baby... a thin wafer and strong wine... centuries old prayers... and lit candles... and all of this foolishness hangs on a naked man on a cross. That is the most foolish thing of all... to think that a man, a criminal, executed by one of the greatest civilizations that has ever existed... a beaten, bloody, weak, and dying Jew in a far off country and a far off time, could mean anything to me or you. If you look up 'foolish' in many people's dictionaries... right there drawn in the margin would be a picture of Jesus, crucified, dead and buried. Foolishness.

That is how all of this is seen in eyes of the world. Sometimes, my friends, that is even how we see it. ... when we wonder about the pain in our lives, or the logic of waiting for marriage. When our lives don't make sense because of unmanageable change. When death knocks on our door... and God feels a million miles away. And it all seems so foolish.

It is at those times when our faith directs us to the very thing that the world considers the most foolish. We look to our crucified Lord. When we look on the cross we see a beaten, bloody and dying jew... but, with the eyes of faith we see more than that. We see the Jesus Christ crucified... for us. We see him bearing the burden of the whole world's sin. We see him bearing the burden of our sin. Instead of being a million miles away, instead of being separated from human suffering, he showed us how much he loves us when he came to be in this world. He came to be a human being and experience the things that trouble us. He came to feel our pain and suffering. He came to be with us. Immanuel.

All of the things we do here reflect that. It isn't any wonder that people outside those doors don't understand it, even more think it is all foolishness. But we believe it because we believe in Christ Crucified.

When water is poured upon a baby and Christ declares through the words we speak that this is now one of his own dear children; We believe it because we believe in Christ Crucified. His death and even more so his resurrection make his promises true. We believe what he did and we believe what he says.

When we approach the communion rail and eat bread and wine and Christ declares through the words we speak that he is with us; we believe it because we believe in Christ Crucified. We believe in what he did for us, his suffering and death so we believe in what he says about his supper.

When we are suffering and there is not end in sight; and Christ declares through a visiting Christian brother or sister that suffering brings us closer to him; We believe it because we believe in Christ Crucified. We believe it because we know that Christ Crucified knows suffering; Christ Crucified knows pain; and Christ Crucified knows us.

When it seems as if the whole world stands in opposition to God's will for a man and a woman. And marriage is assaulted from all sides... mocked and belittled; Christ declares through the words of wedding vows that a man and woman are united together and become one flesh. We believe it because we believe in Christ Crucified. We believe it because he came to earth as a sexual human being.

When the panic wants to set in over the budget... when we wonder if the doors of the church will be closed, and if his word will ever be preached in this place again; Christ declares through the word read in this place that his word will never pass away; We believe it because we believe in Christ Crucified; We believe in the word become flesh and living among us full of grace and truth.

When we stand together here in this place shoulder to shoulder with Christian brothers and sisters and confess that we are sinful people, undeserving of God's grace and forgiveness; and Christ speaks through the words of his servant; "I forgive you." We believe it because we believe in Christ Crucified. We believe he willingly hung naked, bruised, bleeding and dying on wooden cross. We believe that his death won forgiveness for us. We believe that he gives that forgiveness to us through his word.

Are we being foolish? Well, maybe... at lest it is in the eyes of those who aren't sitting here with us. They would have us believe that the things of God are foolish. But "the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom." The foolishness of God sent Jesus Christ to the cross. The foolishness of God allowed him to suffer and die. And the foolishness of God raised him again to life, bringing that life to all who believe. That is beyond human wisdom. Human wisdom just can't figure it out; in only makes sense in faith. In faith we hold on the the foolishness of Jesus Christ crucified. In faith all of the foolish things we do here make sense.

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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