February 4, 2018

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany – February 4, 2018 from Trinity Lutheran Church on Vimeo.


Before the sermon was delivered the congregation sang this little song that goes to the tune of the Eagle’s fight song, Fly Eagle’s Fly.

Jesus loves us.  Yes He loves us every day.  Jesus loves us whether near or far away. When we’re glad, when we’re sad, and even when we’re bad!  Yes friend it’s true.  Jesus died for me and you.  J E S U S!

Have you ever had one of those days when the responsibilities of being a spouse, hold down a job, taking care of the kids or grandkids gets a tad overwhelming?  Toss in bringing the cat to the vet and a bill that you forgot to pay turns into a recipe for disaster.

Those are the days that make me want to find a place away from the noise, constant text and feeling like I am the only life preserver left on the Titanic.

Well, for some of us the only room in the house that can provides some semblance of solitude is the bath room.  That may sound crude but aside from its original purpose, it can serve as an escape hatch when people are looking for you……just to look for you.

As we all know the Eagle’s victory over the Vikings was stupendous.  I watched the game at a neighbor’s house surrounded by ten people munching on wings, Doritos, pizza and enjoying beverages of their choice.  As the cheering got louder and louder every button of my introvert personality got pushed and by the third quarter …….I needed a respite.  

So, with things looking good for the Eagles, I decided to look for an escape hatch.  Slowly I turned, step by step to the rest room down the hall.  Remembering that the host was an avid Eagle’s fan I shouldn’t have been surprised when I opened the door and turned on the light that I would be met with flashing green lights left over from the Christmas tree, a string of Eagles dangling from the ceiling and the Eagle’s fight song coming out of a bobble head football player.  Naturally my heart rate soared so my attempt to escape for even a moment failed.

That hilarious experience deepened my appreciation for the gospel lesson today, because I could understand why Jesus needed a break from the crowds, anxious disciples, and the rustic aroma of sheep.  Finding a desolate place where no man or beast was to be found must have served Jesus well.

You see for Jesus the desert was the wilderness. For it was there that God shaped the Israelites – redeemed – and formed them into the people of God.  In the wilderness John the Baptist called people to repentance for the forgiveness of sins and it was in the wilderness that Jesus triumphed over Satan’s deadly temptations.

God often does his best work in the wilderness moments that we experience.  All of us have had times in our life when things appeared to be hopeless and quite bleak, but God uses our wilderness to reshape our lives, to save us and make us whole.

When was the last time that you were tangled up in a wilderness that was out of your control?  What did it feel like?  Did you ask for, reject, or accept help from God or anyone else?

Our sinful nature can get in the way of where God is leading us.  At times I am far more comfortable with my bad habits and uncomfortable with the progress that I’m making because it’s unchartered territory.

For many of us , it may take the pain of a broken relationship, serious illness, unbearable grief or the imprisonment of an addiction to make us realize that Christ is the only one who can lead us out of wilderness and into a place of refreshment and that’s the Good News for us today!

The Good News that Jesus brought to the people of Capernum was meant to heal them physically but spiritually too.  People were steeped in darkness and hopelessness so when they saw Jesus healing one person after another for hours end, the good news spread like wild fire!

With that being said, it’s only natural that throngs of people would be outrunning each other to get to Him, but what happened after the healings took place?  Were those who were healed become more compassionate toward others or did that river of compassion dry up before dusk?

Did what happened on the outside produce the same results on the inside?  In some cases yes but for those who only came to Jesus for a quick fix missed an opportunity an opportunity to be healed.  They didn’t or they chose not to comprehend the Good News that Jesus came to proclaim.  Jesus is specific in the text.  His main objective is to proclaim the Good News that God’s love and mercy is there for everyone but in the heat of the moment some may have missed the point.

My friends, in the midst of the frenzy and excitement that will be reverberating throughout the country today, take a moment to remember that as baptized children of God we should also celebrate and be grateful for a seat in the super bowl of eternity. Scammers beware…….Jesus purchased those tickets when He gave up His life for us………..so no one will be left outside the gate.

Thanks be to God in Christ