PENTECOST 3, C – June 9, 2013

SCRIPTURES – 1 Kings17:11-17; Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17; Ps. 138

The Lord will fulfill his purposefor me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work ofyour hands.  Ps. 138:8

One monthago today I stood on the top of Diamond Head, the 762’ high volcanic craterthat stands at the end of Waikiki beach. The views were amazing! I sent a textmessage on my phone to my daughters, telling them where I was. Within a minute or two I received a reply –even though they were 1,000’s of miles away in New England. That, too, wasamazing!

We live ina day of amazing communication. Texts, tweets, Facebook postings, emails, Skypeand phone calls, and more are sent across the globe and received nearly instantaneously.Amazing! But, how much of what is sent is worth saying?

Today you saidsomething incredible. Some might call it arrogant. In the Introit, from Ps.138, you said, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” In thisworld of tragedies and crimes and sicknesses and sin and death, can you saythis and be sure of this? You can. You can, and you should, say with confidence the amazing words, “TheLord will fulfill his purpose for me.” After all, we know theLord. Yahweh is His name in Hebrew; Jesus is the name you know better.

Knowing theLord is vitally important. We should never speak of God as if He is unknown,uncertain, generic and nameless. The woman from whom Elijah rented a room thoughtof God this way, for she lived among people who worshiped many gods. This ledher to be uncertain of the gods’ attitude toward her, or if they even knew herand cared about her, and this is why, when her son died, she cried out toElijah, “You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause thedeath of my son!” She took her son’s death to be a sign of the gods’anger at her sin. Elijah responded by crying out to “the Lord my Godand seeking His mercy. He not only knew that there is only one true God; heknew this God. Elijah knew that God was not distant and uncaring, for He hadcome down and made Himself known to Moses and the people of Israel. He hadsaved them from their captivity in Egypt and promised to be with them, and soHe was with Elijah. How much more clearly do we see this in Jesus! He not only callsHimself the one true God, but He shows Himself to be unique by offering Hislife for all people and then rising from the dead. We know God as in flesh likeus, as one who died and rose for us all and lives forever as our God andSavior. It is because of who God is, of who Jesus is, that you can truthfullyand confidently say, “The Lord will fulfill his purposefor me.”

And, it isespecially because God has called you and set you apart in Christ that you cantruly and with complete certainty say, “The Lord will fulfill his purposefor me.” You who believe in Christ are in Christ. Yes, we are all sinners,and the ugliness of our sins can at times be shocking.

Ø Theapostle Paul, who wrote today’s reading from Galatians, was before he became aChristian a persecutor and even murderer of Christians!

Still, Paul says that “God set me apart before I was born, calledme by his grace, and was pleased to reveal his Son to me.” God forgavePaul and changed him, and Paul then glorified God in his life.

This truefor you, also. But, will you believe this? There are two points of view today.One says that human beings are the result of an unplanned and undirectedprocess of evolution. You are a fortunate accident! God says that He carefullyand specially made you in His image and likeness. And so, we can say with thewriter of Psalm 139,

“You [Lord] formed my inwardparts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfullyand wonderfully made… in your book were written, every one of them, the daysthat were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (vss. 13-14 & 16)

It is because of God that you are, and it is because He called you byHis grace in your Baptism and set you apart that you are in Christ and are aChristian. God has set you apart for Himself in Christ!

To be what?To be His child. And, what should a child do? Listen to, learn from, and followhis Father. When we listen to and follow God we are blessed by Him andestablished in His care. When we ignore Him and go our own way, we are lost.

Ø Onemonth ago, after I enjoyed the incredible views from the top of Diamond Head, Ihiked down to catch a bus back to my hotel. I was a bit worn out, and so Istopped at the first bus stop I came upon and got on the bus. It didn’t matterthat the bus stop was on the wrong side of the street and the bus was headingaway from the hotel. I just assumed that it was nearing the end of the routeand would be turning around. After nearly an hour of going the wrong way Ifinally swallowed my pride, got off the bus, crossed to the other side of thestreet, and got on a bus heading toward my hotel. Eventually, I got back.

You whohave been baptized into Christ and believe in Him are blessed to be united asone with Him. What is His is yours. And so, His Father is your Father. You area child of God.

Jesus teachesGod’s children to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven… Thy will bedone.” Christ expects us to say of Him, and of His Father, what thewoman said to Elijah: “I know that the word of the Lord in yourmouth is truth.” He therefore expects us to give up our wisdom tolisten to and follow our heavenly Father’s wisdom.

What doesit mean to say this and follow this? It means setting aside time to hear andread God’s words, learn His commandments and consider how they apply to yourlife. It means living differently: not to satisfy your own desires and getahead in this life, but to honor God and seek the good of others over yourself.At times it means rejecting as sinful and harmful practices and beliefs thatmost others consider natural and even good. It means accepting as God’s willthe rejection and scorn that may then come.

When youdo, you will be able to speak confidently of yourself, of your life and yourfuture. You will be able to say boldly, “The Lord will fulfill his purposefor me.” In spite of tragedies and crimes and sicknesses and sin anddeath, and persecutions for following Him, the Lord will fulfill His purposefor you. Speaking this way is not bragging. God will not direct your lifebecause of who you are. Not at all! We are not better than others or strongerin faith than anyone else! Hardly. We are sinners, and we know this very well.God knows it even better. No, it is because of Christ that we can boldly andconfidently say, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” No sin, whetherof ours or of others, can keep Him from doing so, for He has bound our sins toHimself and on the cross put them to death. Nor can death, even your own death,keep Him from fulfilling His purpose for you. He who raised from the dead theson of the widow from Nain will raise you from your own death!

Believingthis will not make this life easy. God will also not be easy. His will for yourlife may sometimes make you wonder and cry out, “Do not forsake me, the work ofYour hands!” Go ahead and cry out. God is not offended or put off byour worries and cries. After the son of the woman with whom he was stayingdied, the prophet Elijah even said to God, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamityeven upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” He spokeso strongly because he knew God to be good and merciful, a God who would helpand not reject him.

We knowthis, also. “Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever!” (Ps. 138:8). Wesee this most clearly in the life and words of Jesus, the Son of God. Trust Himand listen to Him. Follow His words and entrust your life to Him. He willfulfill His purpose for you: in this life, and then in eternity, as He callsyou forth from the dead and brings you to His Father in heaven!