Attendance is down, giving is down, people I talk to think they can be Christian without being part of a community of faith. And I think what am I doing? Don’t you sometimes think the same thing? Be honest, you do think that sometimes don’t you?
Why should we continue waiting for Christ to come again? We’ve been waiting for an eternity it seems. Is Jesus really going to come back? Is this evil ever going to end? Has God written us off? There are still wars. People are killing each other over the most asinine things. Families are being torn apart by alcohol, drugs, and infidelity. Sometimes I think, “Why do I bother?”
Maybe it’s the time of year that makes us feel so down in the mouth about things. If the sun would shine all the time then we’d all be happier and more optimistic. No?
All around the United States mainline denominations are losing members. Even our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are seeing their numbers declining. What’s a church supposed to do? The world is just too powerful for the church.
Friends, this is nothing new. The epistle of Hebrews was written for a church that was experiencing declining numbers. People were staying away saying that they could be true to God without the church. That doesn’t sound too much different from today.
So what’s the good news? The good news is the word of God to His people. The word from the prophet Jeremiah was that this…
This new plan I'm making with Israel isn't going to be written on paper, isn't going to be chiseled in stone; This time "I'm writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts."
He concludes, I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.
Jeremiah was telling God’s people about the “new covenant” that was going to written on the hearts and minds of those who believed.
The main problem we all have is that we know our sin and we don’t believe that we can ever be made clean again. Even when we hear that God forgives our sin through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we just can’t believe that anyone could ever love us after the wrongs we’ve done to our friends and families. We can’t forgive ourselves even though we hear in the Message that God has forgiven and forgotten all of our sins.
And that’s the reason we need to hear this Message again. Jesus died once for all of our sins. That sacrifice was enough and it never needs to be made again. Believe it, friends. Jesus was not ordinary priest. He was the priest who was and is still able to meet the requirements in order for us to have clear consciences again.
In the Feasting on the Word commentary they asked a very good question, “If the cross of Christ solved the problem of sin and Easter is the validation of this then why do we still see and feel so much sin and suffering all around us?”
What do you think the answer is? Is God losing the battle against the Evil One? The commentary pointed to Psalm 110, “…sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” Jesus completed what he had been sent here for and now God continues waging battle against the “enemies” of Christ. It’s a little like watching a football game that you know one team has won but the clock hasn’t run down yet. There are still plays that need to be run before the score is really certain. That’s what’s going on now. Jesus has defeated death but all the detractors have to be put to bed before he can come back and assume his throne.
Friends, that’s why it’s so important to come together as a community of faith and hear the Word proclaimed, to be reminded “to hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering.” As Thomas Long put it, “…if you want to know the truth, pay more attention to the gospel you hear than to the obsolete evil you see, thrashing in its death throes in the world.”
So instead of coming to worship feeling all glum and down in the mouth you can come here to be released from those chains that have been holding you back. You can come into this sanctuary knowing that your sins have been forgiven and the slate has been wiped clean. You are really a new person and in the eyes of God you are pure and sinless because you have been claimed as one of Christ’s own children. Friends, we can live that way because the victory has already been won.
My friends, God loves you and so do I. Thanks be to God. Amen.