Abide in the Word and in his WordsA Message for Reformation Sunday on John 8:31-36 and Romans 3:19-28 given on October 27, 2019 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas

We all have struggles that can isolate us from others, causing us to feel alone, separated from Jesus or even abandoned by God. I have had times like this in my own life.

Undergoing treatment for breast cancer eleven years ago was one such time of isolation for me—and it wasn’t because I did not have a loving family and support, I did. Some experiences just leave us feeling very alone and that’s part of being human while living in a fallen world.

One day, Pastor Gary Voss who was filling in for me at the church I was serving, brought me Communion at home. I felt strong enough to be out of bed, sitting in my rocking chair in the living room with a warm hat on my bald head, and blankets covering me. I’ll never forget the bible verse and the moment he read it to me—it was Psalm 27, but he changed the word, “evildoers” in the second verse, which I had never thought to do as a pastor. He began to read:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold[a] of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When “cancer cells” assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.

A few words brought me back to the truth of the Word made flesh in Jesus, and I was freed. Pr. Gary reminded me that God is in the pit of despair with me and I was not fighting for my life alone. I was embraced by the God who is in all things.

"If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

This is what Martin Luther discovered that began the Protestant Reformation and changed history forever. He too felt isolated and alone by his own brokenness and sin. As a monk he tried and tried to please God, to be perfect, to follow the commandments, to do what God and the church required.

But whatever it was about his personality and psyche, he was tortured by the knowledge that every day, he came up short, broken and imperfect. So, he studied Scripture to understand, to learn, to improve and there he discovered—not just the law of God, but the unmerited grace and love of Jesus—

…since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith…For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

A few words brought him to the truth of the Word made flesh, and he was freed. Luther discovered that God is in the pit with us—not abandoning us to writhe there alone, but through Jesus’ brokenness on the cross, sin is the very place God meets us to save us, to bring us out of isolation and make us whole through a relationship with Jesus.

"If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

When Jesus says, “continue in my word” he invites us to continue in him, to abide in a relationship with him as the Logos, as the Word made flesh. Jesus wants us to continue in a relationship with him in all circumstances of our life—the good, the bad, the ugly, the joyful, the confusing, the ecstatic, the isolating, the loving, the exuberant!

We abide in him by dwelling in the words he spoke in Scripture and by speaking them to each other, reminding us that this Jesus is with us in all things and that abiding in Christ is what truly reforms our individual lives, and our life together in community!

So, continue to abide in Jesus—both his constant presence as the Word made flesh, and his words in Scripture—talk with him about how to balance and use the time, talent and treasure God has given you—abide with Jesus and ask him about how he desires you to share his love in your daily life or use your skill or talent to help Spirits Come Alive at St. Luke’s.

There’s no one right answer, but there is a truth that Jesus has for you—and whatever that is, and wherever that conversation leads you is also good for our community.

Continuing to abide in our relationship with Jesus, both in his constant presence, as the Word made flesh, and in his words about being faithful stewards has led us to establish the Mission Endowment Fund and we install the officers today and receive Chris Sherrod officially into membership after 20 years of being here—so you never know how abiding in Christ will reform your life!

"If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

Jesus welcomes us to continue in a relationship with him—to abide in him, the Word made flesh—and in his words for us, trusting God’s gift of unmerited grace and love—the truth that frees us for wholeness and community and life in Christ. That’s our on-going Reformation.


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