| ||Messiah Lutheran Church||
6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
"Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." (Matthew 23: 1-4)
In the words of Shakespeare "All the world's a stage"
And so I ask you, "How was your act in 2017?"
If there were to exist the reality show "Keeping up with the members and friends of Messiah Lutheran Church in Chicago" .... What would we observe about you in your love for God and your love for your neighbor?
Do you practice what you preach?
Or are you more like the Pharisees in our text, whose lines didn't match up with their actions?
If we were to describe in vivid detail all of our lowlights this past year,
Of how we have sinned in word and deed.
And along with that, describe how we have sinned in our thoughts.
No doubt, we'd all hang our heads in shame.
And confess that we have failed miserably in carrying out our roles as forgiven children of God.
Who has called out of darkness into His marvelous light.
And so others might rightly call us a bunch of hypocrites - pretenders.
Much like the Pharisees who talked a good game but didn't live up to their talk, And not only that, held others to standards that they themselves did not keep.
You see, even though we have received a new nature in Christ.
This, side of heaven, we still have to struggle with our Adam that will still rear its ugly head from time to time.
As St. Paul describes this struggle in Roman 7: "The good I want to do that 1 don't do, and that which I don't want to do that I keep on doing.
Oh, wretched man that I am who will deliver me form this body of death?
But, then he goes on to say, Thanks be to God who has delivered me through Jesus Christ!
And here we find the key to overcome our hypocritical ways in 2018!
Even though there's going to be times when you give into the devil, the world and your own sinful flesh.
And sin this side of heaven.
Whenever you find yourself giving into sin, don't wallow in your guilt and give up in despair.
Instead, cry out, along with Luther, but I am baptized!
And affirm your identity in Christ, who has delivered you from a body of death.
And the Holy Spirit working inside of you will cause you to think,
Hey, that's not me! I'm not acting out my part as the forgiven child of God that I am!
That's the old me, before Christ!
But because I am now in Christ, I am a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come.
For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Hollywood insiders have revealed that in the case of the reality show "Keeping up with the Kardashians", the Kardashian family has the right to edit out anything they don't want to air on the show.
And in our case, Jesus has made it possible for us to edit out all our sins that rightly cause us guilt and shame.
He took all of our sins with him to the cross, including those lowlights of yours in 2017.
And through his sacrificial death has made it possible for our sins to be removed from our record as far as the east and the west.
So that God will remember them no more.
And will not bring up our sinful past against us.
And so if God were to describe in vivid detail your life in 2017.
All those low lights of yours would be gone.
And instead you would see nothing but a highlight film of your good works in Christ!
Fitting to the role that you've been called to play on the stage of this world, as. a baptized child of God.
And so I encourage you in 2018 to each and every day re-affirm your identity in Christ as you face the challenges that lie before you.
When you get up in the morning, begin by making the sign of the cross in remembrance of your baptism,
Indicating that the old Adam inside of you should by daily contrition and repentance: be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
And pray to God the words found in Luther's morning prayer, "keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You"
As together, we as God's people of Messiah Lutheran Church in Chicago, with the help of the Holy Spirit, follow Jesus as our teacher and guide. So that what we say would match what we do.
And successfully play out of our parts as Christians in the various roles of our lives --- not to be seen by others, as the Pharisees.
But that others might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
In the words of Psalm 34:3 "Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Happy New Year!
In His Joy!
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