Third Sunday of Epiphany

1 Corinthians 1:18
The word of the cross is moronic to those perishing, but to those being saved it is the power of God.

            We’re in the season of epiphany, revelation, and I always find it fun and joyful when I find something small but unexpected. Just like translating today’s passage and reading out ‘moron’ in the Greek because it’s a Greek word; then I think back to my friends at school who weren’t Christian and yeah, they thought I was a bit of a moron to trust God. I mean look at us, we look to a man who died on a cross to give us life. That’s ridiculous! Looking to death for life, makes no sense, and yet here we are. Morons to those outside of Christ because we trust the word of the cross.

            In the eyes of this world it’s foolish, stupid and moronic that Christ’s death would bring you everlasting life, and to believe that I, a sinner just like you, could take away the guilt of your sin against someone else, and yet I forgave you all your sin, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But that’s the thing. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, teaches us it is not about me, not about the pastor who baptised or confirmed you, not about Luther, Peter or Paul; it is Jesus Christ who died for you and all Christians, all baptised into His name and joined to Him in His life and holiness. This is the power of God in Christ. It is Jesus who is Lord and saviour of all Christians. This is why the name ‘Lutheran’ isn’t truly helpful, it’s a slur from the Roman Church that stuck, yet Luther himself preferred ‘Christian’ and in the early years we were known as ‘evangelical’ or gospel Christians because of the primacy of scriptural teaching in our congregations. The book of Concord, the confessions of the evangelical church, sought to be just that, agreeing, or in concord, with what God’s people, the church, have confessed as true from Pentecost to now, well up to 1580 when the book was published. We are not followers of Martin Luther, any more than we follow Isaiah the prophet. You were not baptised in the name of Luther, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He makes us holy; He renews and gives life everlasting. It is God who baptises, washing clean and giving such great gifts as reconciliation and adoption into His loving family. It is God who forgives, yet like a postie He has given me the message for you, indeed every Christian can bring God’s word of forgiveness (John 20:21-23; James 5:16) to another because we are joined with Jesus who is God, but you and the Holy Spirit have given the pastor that responsibility to proclaim God’s grace publicly.

            Last week we heard the truth, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And three weeks ago at Epiphany it was revealed that God’s love in saving people from sin, death and the devil is not just for His ancient people, but also for you here today. As we hear the promises of God, we trust Him by the power of God the Holy Spirit and agree together that we are forgiven, sin no longer has power over us because of what God has done in Christ Jesus. We confess together the wonderful truth of what God has done, is doing and will do, in the words of the creed. We say with one voice ‘Amen’ this is most certainly true, it is done and will be done, at the end of our Lord’s prayer. This is concord, to all speak the same thing, the same in mind and in opinion. This is what Jesus desires for all His people, as He prayed in the garden, may they be one as we are one (John 17:21).

            So by His power in baptism, may we be one, as our Father planned it. What a wonderful picture of the common life in a Christian community, peace, love, joy; truly if we lived together this way, the way that every one of you were called to in your baptism, called saints, set apart in Christ, everywhere calling on the name of Jesus, awaiting the revelation of Christ who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the Day of the Lord; called into this wonderful fellowship of Jesus the Son of God; if you lived this way the truth of Christ’s love would shine around us. Yet do you live this way? Or is there still division? Distance and separation between you and another member of this congregation? Between you and another Christian? Disagreement on what God has said, what He has done, on the way God wants us to live? Are we of the same mind and opinion, speaking together in agreement with what God has first said?

            Or must we again humble ourselves and confess the truth of our pride, stubbornness, and reliance on our own worldly wisdom, to confess our sins? Jesus is our Lord, King of kings, Judge of the living and the dead (John 20:28; 1 Timothy 6:15; Acts 10:42). He is the one in charge, in Him you are no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:17-18). You are not your own, you were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The Spirit through Paul reminds us, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). You and I, and all of us have come here together as one family to humbly receive God’s gifts. To submit to God’s mercy in this Divine Service, where God serves you by His Word and in His sacraments. In His wisdom, serving through His word read again by human voice, His proclamation with human lips, bread and wine, and a guy in white dress up the front. Plain, dull and moronic to those who are perishing, but the very power of God to those being saved.

            So thank God for His great mercy, rely on Him to make you holy seeking reconciliation and agreement with all in Christ, speaking together and living the truth of God’s power saving you in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ our King.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now and into all humility. Amen.

Joseph Graham.