Evident Faith

I’m glad that we began our worship this morning with “A Mighty Fortress,” one of Martin Luther’s most famous hymns, because today we are going to dig into the Letter of James which Luther deemed “an Epistle of straw” when compared with the letters of Paul and Peter.

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Shocking Words

Today we hear these words about Jesus’ flesh and blood in sixth chapter of John as words of comfort. Imagine, however, that you didn’t know these words. They would be shocking! Jesus was known as a rabbi or teacher in his day and he spoke these words in the synagogue at Capernaum (v. 59). Imagine if I as your pastor said these same words. How would you react? “Unless you eat my flesh, you have no life in you!”

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Bread of Life for Eternal Life

The eternal life that Jesus offers is not just an elongation of our present life. It involves his transformation both of us and of all creation. Elongation would involve continuing in this present world with all of its sin, suffering, and difficulties. On the other hand, Jesus boldly proclaims in Revelation 21:5 – “Behold I am making all things new.” And the verse before this tells us that “[God] will wipe away every tear from every eye…” So Jesus, the bread of life, is both a gift for this life (no more spiritual hunger) and for eternity.

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Growling Hunger

Have you ever felt concerned about running low on things you need? What do you do? Grumbling is often our natural response. Anxious feelings or scrambling and striving for a solutions are common responses as well. The Lord invites us to open our hands and ask. “Our father who art in heaven…give us this day our daily bread.”

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Sent

How long is a long time? When your parents were born? The Civil War? The Declaration of Independence? Martin Luther? The formation of the Grand Canyon? Even before that, Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians, he chose you before the foundation of the world.

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The Endowment of the Creator

As we celebrate our nation’s independence this weekend, let us also celebrate our dependence on God, the giver of all good things, and let us recommit ourselves to living as righteous people under God, serving those around us and helping others and our nation to flourish.

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Panic and Peace

Panic is often our response in the event of a threat. Remember the toilet paper shortage of 2020 or the gas shortage a few weeks ago. Everyone feels the need to stand up for him or herself, to guard against danger, to make sure that they are not the one left with the empty roll of toilet paper. It is certainly good to be prepared, especially now that we are in hurricane season, but panic and anxiety can get exhausting. This is why it is so comforting to know that Jesus is Lord of our circumstances as well as the one who is able to bring peace to our anxious hearts.

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The Tallest Tree

Virgin forests once covered 78% of Florida’s land. By 1937 only 21% was forested. Today, through reforestation efforts, the number has risen to 47%. But these new, younger trees are not nearly as big as the old growth trees were. One such tree, the Senator, was estimated to be 3,500 years old in 1993. Before a hurricane removed its top in 1925 the tree stood 165 feet tall. It was the 5th oldest tree in the world and the largest tree east of the Mississippi. Its trunk was 17.5 ft in diameter. The tree was destroyed by a fire lit by a 26 y/o drug addict on January 16, 2012. Today the charred remains of the tree are only 20-25 ft tall. In the readings for today, a number of nations are compared with tall trees that rise to prominence. Ultimately, all of these trees meet their end, but the Kingdom of God will stand for ever.

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The Letter in the Envelope

In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul says that he (and we!) are like common clay vessels into which God has placed the treasure of his Gospel. Why would God choose the weak and unimpressive (you and me) to be bearers of his message? Because the power is his not ours. He doesn’t want the letter to be lost in the envelope.

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United Through the Spirit

In Acts 2:14, the Apostle Peter quotes from the Prophet Joel saying “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Instead of us building a tower up to God (as the People in Babel did in Genesis 11), God bridges the gap and comes down to us. We approach God through repentance and faith and he pours out his forgiveness and mercy upon us and washes us clean in the water of Baptism.

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