Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Ask and receive as children. . .

Sermon for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 20B, preached on Sunday, September 19, 2021, by the Rev. Daniel M. Ulrich.

    We begin our daily prayers saying, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  That’s how Jesus taught us to pray, and Luther explains what this means.  We call God Father because He invites us to.  He is our true Father, giving us physical life.  He’s our true Father giving us everlasting life through His Son.  He’s our true Father adopting us in the waters of Baptism.  And because He’s our true Father that means we’re His true children.  Therefore, it’s right for us to do what children do.  Children ask questions.  They ask of their father, and so do we.  We humbly come before God, ask of Him, and receive all good things from Him. 
    We see in the Gospel reading today a time when the disciples didn’t ask.  They were afraid to ask.  Jesus was teaching His disciples specifically about His death and resurrection.  He said, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him.  And when he is killed, after three days he will rise” (Mk 9:31).  For us who are post resurrection, we know the rest of the story.  We understand what Jesus was saying.  But His disciples didn’t, so they should’ve asked. 
    Being a disciple means being a student, and part of being a good student is asking questions when you don’t understand.  And in general, the disciples were good about asking questions.  Last week we heard them ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out a demon, but He could.  And when Jesus began teaching in parables, they asked Him why and what was the meaning of those parables.  Asking questions wasn’t something that was foreign to the disciples.  But this time they didn’t ask.  And they didn’t ask because they were afraid. 
    Why were they afraid?  Were they afraid of being reprimanded by Christ?  Were they afraid He’d be mad if they showed ignorance?  Or were they afraid of finding out the truth, afraid of talking about death?  Or maybe were they afraid of looking foolish for in front of each other for not understanding?  Maybe they didn’t ask Jesus because they wanted to look smart...after all, at that same time they were arguing amongst themselves about who was the greatest. 
    You see in that argument a lack of humility.  Each disciple was trying to put himself above the others.  That’s not what humility does.  Humility doesn’t think about self.  Humility doesn’t seek out greatness.  Humility doesn’t desire to be number one.  No, humility recognizes insufficiency.  It sees all our faults and failings.  It sees our utter need for help.  And there’s no better picture of humility than a child. 
    Children may not know what the word “humility” means, but they know what it is, because they know their need.  They’re constantly asking for things; not just their wants, but also their needs.  When a kid gets hungry, they ask for food.  They know they can’t provide for themselves, so they seek help from mom and dad. 
    But it’s just not physical needs that kids ask for.  They also ask for information.  Every parent knows the stage when their child’s favorite word is “Why?”  It can be exhausting to have to answer that question over and over and over again, especially when we don’t know why.  But in that question humility is revealed.  The child is showing their need.  They don’t know why things are the way they are.  They don’t know why life is the way it is, so they need help understanding life.  And they need help living life too.  And that never changes, no matter how old you get.
    Jesus used a child to teach the disciples.  “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all. … Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mk 9:35, 37).  None of us is sufficient in life.  All of us needs help, and that’s exactly what the Lord has given us to do. 
People all the time want to know “What’s God’s purpose for me in life?”  We think this is a difficult question, but the answer is pretty simple: love God and love others.  
    Loving God means receiving Him and His Son with faith.  Loving God means humbly coming before the Lord as His baptized child, recognizing your insufficiencies, seeing all your faults and failing, confessing your sin, repenting of them.  Loving God means recognizing you can’t earn His forgiveness or salvation.  Loving God means trusting in the death of the Son of Man, trusting in Christ’s cross as payment for your sin.  Loving God means looking to Jesus’ resurrection as the source of your life and your own resurrection.  And loving God means loving others, those whom God has given into your life, humbly serving them because Christ has served you.  
    Life as a baptized child of God is a life of service, and there’s no better place to start serving than with your family, the very people who are the closest to you.  They are a gift from God.  So parents, serve your children.  Answer them when they ask.  Children serve your parents.  Honor and obey them, recognizing that God has given them to you to take care of you.  Siblings, humbly serve each other.  It’s not all about “what’s mine” or “fairness.”    
    But don’t just think of your family as those who live under the same roof, because your family is more than that.  Your family is all of God’s children.  Your family is all of your brothers and sisters in Christ.  And you’re called to humbly serve them as well, especially your youngest brothers and sisters, the ones who run through the halls of the church building, the ones who cry during sermons, the ones who drop their crayons and Cheerios on the ground.  And one of the best ways to serve them, is to be an example of faith to them.
    Teach them the faith.  Answer their questions.  Show them how to humbly receive all good things from the Lord.  Show them by regularly coming to this place confessing your sin and then receiving God’s absolution through Word and Sacrament.  Show them by asking of your Father in heaven, praying for your needs, praying for the good things He has taught us to pray for.  When you gather in worship with your brothers and sisters, you are serving them, and you receive service from your Lord.  
    The disciples were afraid to ask Jesus.  Maybe it was because they didn’t want their ignorance to show.  Maybe they were more concerned with their greatness.  But none of us is the greatest.  We’re all humble servants, called to love and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We’re humble children, not meriting anything from God our Father, but receiving all good things through His Son.  He’s the greatest, for He humbly served us with His death on the cross.  So come as God’s children.  Come with humility and ask of your Father in prayer.  Come to His table and receive all good things.  Come and receive everlasting life from Him.  In Jesus’ name...Amen.  

1 comment:

Artie Whitefox said...

The Heavenly Father who forgives the debts of others, through us, does not want the world to use money. Seek and find was used by the indians. They did not use money. They did not know about person to person, ask and receive. That is in the Bible. Pastors, priests and bishops are oblivious to that. We got Jehovah Witnesses who don't know scripture, needing to make their own book. God's children are nude. The church is honoring cloth, not what is under the cloth. Money, used in the world keeps person to person, ask and receive from taking place. A person cannot see a buissness as if it was a fruit tree. The church perverts scripture to deliver gays, and people who have sex with another species, to be put to death. That is their desire, calling it sweet. The blasphemer calls death sweet. That is who is against them. Devils leave when God's light is present. The dead are waiting to be raised unto eternal body and soul life, or eternal body and soul death. People are serving cash. People will not be able to serve each other, when people are serving cash. People need to repent of supporting the fear giving legal system. That system makes people to accuse, and condemn others, and give guilt. They that condemn will see God as fire. Faith is not a belief system. All have a measure of faith. Thomas had faith. The centurion had faith. Why need faith when what is not seen, is finally seen? The Abomination of Desolation, who is Satan, wants to stand on the earth, saying I am God trying to prove it. That being is dressed in gold, and gems. Ezekiel 28: 13 - 19, KJV.