10/30/2016 Reformation Sunday The text is Romans 3:19-28.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today is Reformation Sunday. It’s a special day throughout the Lutheran Church as we remember the faith and courage of Martin Luther who proclaimed that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Of course, Luther’s words are a summary of Paul’s theology, but his words have survived the test of time. In fact, next year, we will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as we proclaim our salvation through the grace of God.
On such a special day in the church year, it is fitting that we celebrate what we have been freely given through Jesus Christ…and it is just as fitting for us to celebrate with 4 of our youth who will be making a commitment of faith at this altar.
Like so many youth before them, they will make the baptismal promises their very own. They will be making a commitment to come to worship, to strive for justice and peace, to join us in our mission and ministry in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Will they keep their vows? God knows. But, for us, time will tell. All we can do is pray, knowing that they may be just as rebellious as many of us were in our younger years.
It’s funny how life plays out….
“One of the most famous composers had a rebellious son who used to come in late at night after his mother and father had gone to bed. And before going to his own room, this rebellious son would go to his father’s piano and slowly, spitefully… and loudly would play a simple scale, all but the final note. He would play, “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti…” and then he wouldn’t strike that final “Do.” Then leaving the scale unfinished, he would retire to his room. Meanwhile, his father (great musician that he was) hearing the scale minus the final note,… would twist and turn and writhe on his bed, his mind unable to relax because the scale was not finished. Finally, not able to stand it any longer, the father would crawl out of bed, stumble down the stairs and strike that final note of the scale. Only then could he relax and be at peace. Now, that’s an interesting parable because it reminds me of the way we so often treat God. We play around with some of the notes of faith, but we don’t play the full scale… – We forgive, but not completely. – We love, but not completely. – We serve, but not completely. – We accept Christ, but not completely. – We live the Christian life-style but not completely. – We commit our lives to God, but not completely. But then, even when we treat God shabbily, in his infinite patience and amazing grace, he continues to reach out to us and he continues to love us.” James W. Moore, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
Now, that is amazing grace! That is the grace that saves.
I am not sharing this story with you 4 on your Day of Confirmation because I’m claiming that any of you are like the rebellious son who drove his father crazy (although I’m sure if I asked your parents, they would remember a few times when you did just that). No, I am sharing this story to point out just how gracious God has been with you and everyone else sitting in this room. For, none of us is perfect. We rebel. We make promises with all the good intentions of following through and then something better comes along. We make commitments without knowing the cost and toss in the towel all too soon. We even make promises to God that we don’t fully keep.
As Paul so aptly puts it, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. So we are unworthy of God’s blessings, but because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are made right with God. We are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
By God’s grace-filled gift, all are made right with God. We can’t earn this. There is nothing we can do to be made right with God. God does everything. Through faith in Jesus Christ and God’s wonderful gift of grace we have been made right before Him, and have peace with our Lord.
So, we speak the words of confession and admit our failure, knowing that through Christ, God is always more ready to forgive than we are to seek his forgiveness. We gather on Sundays and share the Lord’s meal, because we need it and God will not withhold it from us.
So, the promises made on this day and the promises that were made for us in baptism, and the vows many of us spoke years ago are not for God’s sake or done in order to earn a pretty place in heaven. These promises are for us. These promises are made by us for our sake, so that we remain connected to a gracious God who loves us in spite of ourselves.
And so it is, on Reformation Sunday, we reaffirm our baptism and rejoice in God’s grace given to us through the cross of Christ. So, let celebration begin, and may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.