Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Matthew 2:16-18; A Memorial Service for the Victims of Abortion; January 22, 2013;

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston, Iowa;

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”” (Matthew 2:16–18, ESV)

Grace and Peace to You from Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

King Herod was a nasty sort. Especially, toward the end of his life. He saw conspiracy around every corner. He had his own sons and wives put to the sword. Everyone, he thought, was after his crown. Here we see him strike out with all his venom, in paranoid delusion and anger as the Magi snuck away leaving him nothing but the town of Bethlehem. "Kill the baby boys!" he must have shouted. "All of them up to 1 year... No! make it 2. No baby from Bethlehem will be king!" It was evil from the depths of the human heart. But hardly the worst thing Herod had ever done. Now, Bethlehem was a very small town. The number of baby boys slaughtered was likely no more than 20. It was evil, families grieved, and Bethlehem itself was in shock. I'm sure many families never knew exactly why their baby boy was sacrificed.

Jesus, Herod's intended victim, would later say

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person...” (Matthew 15:19-20a, ESV)

This is the evil that we see around us every day. Twenty dead children at Sandy Hook is just one small example of the evil that defiles us. And it is all out of the human heart. And while we may think we are better than Herod or the Sandy Hook shooter, and that we would never do the same, yet every day we allow our own evil slaughter. Over 3,000 every day, 53 million since 1973 when the Supreme Court made abortion, for every day of all nine months of pregnancy, a legal evil. Every day, these children, die as sacrifices on the altar of choice. As if somehow it is right and good that my right to choose is more important than the life of any other person.

Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

You, me, our children, all of us are tainted by this very sin. Some of us directly. Some of us more indirectly. You may have come here because you want to hear this sin condemned openly. You may have come here to grieve the 53 million. You may have come here to grieve your own personal sin. You may have come here because this issue, abortion, has touched you in a way that no one else can possibly understand. Because although there have been 53 million children killed, the effects are so much more broad than that. Every dead child has a mother, a father, a family, and a community. Every death hurts us all, poisons us all, deprives us all of another God-given relationship. And this is what sin, all sin, does.

I do not know why you have come here this evening. I have no solution that will magically end the slaughter. We are simply called by God to do what we've been given to do in the time we've been given. And in fact, God never promises that all we do will change the society around us. He has not called us to do that. He does promise that in the end He will make all things right. In doing what we have been given to do, it all begins with our own repentance. "I a poor miserable sinner... have sinned against God in thought, word and deed... by what I have done, and what I have left undone. I deserve nothing but temporal and eternal punishment." No less than grievous King Herod. No less than any other guilty of mass murder. I most naturally point to someone else's sin is being greater than mine. But all sin has its heart in selfishness. All sin has its center in setting up the human being as God. It shows itself in many ways. In the taking of another human life, that is, ending a life that only God has the right to end, is only one dark symptom of the sin that is in human heart. That is the sin that you and I and all people live in. And that is the sin that deserves eternal hell.

Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

We are the most grievous sinners, every one of us. But God does have mercy! Our sin, your sin, my sin, the sin of King Herod, the sin of the Sandy Hook shooter, the sin of the abortionist, and the sin of the one who says nothing in the face of infanticide, is and has been paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. God the father, sent his son, Jesus Christ to pay the most heinous punishment for the sins of the whole world. He was pinned to the cross and their suffered eternal hell for the sins of all people. He was abandoned to the cross by God in the place of those who should be abandoned. He suffered God's anger over the sin of humans wanting to be God. And there in his death dies the death that all sinners deserve. See, there is no sin that is greater than God's forgiveness. God has given himself, in Jesus Christ, as the complete, perfect, all encompassing sacrifice for sin. His death on the cross is worth more than all the sins committed by all the people for all time, and that includes your sin and mine. And what's more, after three days and the grave he rose from the dead. It is his resurrection that proves that his sacrifice on the cross is complete.

So, if you are here to hear the sin of abortion condemned openly, here this; The killing of children in the womb is a grievous sin against God. If you are here to grieve 53 million dead; Know that God himself grieves with you as he hates death more than you can know. He proves it by sending his son to die on the cross and rise again to new life to end deaths hold over human beings. If you are here to grieve your own sin, here this; Forgiveness is yours in Jesus Christ, who suffered death and punishment in your place and rose again to give you the promise of new life in him.

“... though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18b, ESV)

If you are here because the sin of abortion has touched your life in some other unmentionable way; Listen to what Jesus has to say:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, ESV)

And you can trust the promise of the one who lived, died on the cross, and rose again for you.

Please stand and pray with me.

O Lord and Giver of life, You know the hurt and damage that abortion has brought to our land. We grieve for the multitudes of children who have slaughtered. We grieve for the mothers who have been victimized. We grieve for those in the medical establishment who have taken life instead of preserving it. We grieve for our inability to recognize as a society what any parent looking at an ultrasound knows: that this little one is a precious human life and needs our protection. Forgive us, Lord, and turn the hearts of our nation. We believe that with You all things are possible. Grant us the wisdom to see that what President Obama noted in a different context, holds above all for the children in their mothers' wombs: "This is our first task as a society – keeping our children safe. It is how we will be judged." Let us see it, Lord, and repent that the killing may stop, the hurting be loved and cared for and every human life valued as priceless from conception to natural death. We ask it all in the name of Him who became a Child in the womb of Mary to save us all.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Amen.

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

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