Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thousands and thousands of years ago, before a written language, people would share their stories, their history and their philosophy by word of mouth. Generation after generation, these narratives were passed down. People would memorize the chronicles of their lives, word for word, and repeat them over and over again.
The knowledge we have today increases of the back of previous knowledge. We climb upwards on the steps of those who have gone before us. Some of this information fades away or is lost completely, but those words that remain true and valuable surpass the ravages of war, disaster and time itself.
One of the oldest texts still in existence today is the Holy Bible. Since the time of Moses, this book has survived famine, war, floods and fire. It was preserved through time by spoken word passed down to generation after generation. Eventually it was written on parchment, scrolls and then bound into books. In our day we discover caches of this book written on scrolls stuck in clay jars found within caves of ancient lands whose people have long since passed and of rulers who have long since ceased to be.
Yet the Word remains. The Word does not perish. In the Scriptures we read and hear the history of God’s people, but most importantly, we hear God speaking to his people… speaking to us.
Over the years, people have used the aural, written and printed word to spread more than the truth, more than their history – some people have used the written word to spread lies and deceit. Sometimes it is just a minimal twist of the truth and in other instances; it is a complete reversal of the truth. Does this eliminate the truth? No. Does it cause people to forget the truth? Yes.
This morning we celebrate life. We focus on the beautiful work of our God in His creation. The Earth, the Heavens, the plants and the animals are all wondrous and amazing intricate interconnected forms of a living ecosphere, of which, we are the most complex and extraordinary.
We see the truth all around us, that we are a living and breathing creation of an all powerful and all knowing God. The more we seek answers to our inner workings as human beings, both physical and spiritual, the more questions we raise and the more mystery we uncover.
At the foundation of this creation is the Truth. This is a true God and a true creation through the Word that is Jesus Christ. As Jesus told Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. [Jn 14:6]
The true Word created us and the true Word was given to us by the Creator at the beginning of time. The God of heaven and earth gave us life through His very breath of the Spirit. It amazes me that anyone would be as arrogant as to defy our Lord by murdering that life.
Do not be fooled that God does not know every life on this earth. Do not think that God does not care for His creation. The very first murder of Abel at the hands of his brother Cain could not be covered up or dismissed. Here is the word from Genesis chapter 4 verses 8 through 10:
Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. [Gen 4:8-10]
This sin of murder did not go unnoticed. It could not be put aside as a merciful or righteous killing. It was not an accident. It was not committed in order to save another life. It was a lie and a sin – it was murder. God saw this and knew the heart of Cain. No matter how Cain lived the rest of his life, he could not cover up his sin between him and God.
We still have sin in our lives today. We still have murder in our world. People still reject the truth, murder one another and then try to cover the sinful act with more lies, but God still knows. Listen to the truth spoken by the Word who is our Savior:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” [Matt 10:29-31]
God cares for His creation and knows when a bird falls to the ground. He knows the number of the hairs on our heads.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, of all the sins we commit day in and day out, one stands out as a most monstrous and evil act against ourselves as a people but most importantly against God our Father. This sin is the murder of human life, the murder of unborn children. In our enlightened age of knowledge and technology, we still commit the basest of crime against our Creator.
The abortion of the children of God while still in the life giving womb of their mother has taken murder to a new low. Do not think that God does not hear their cries. The voice of our brother’s blood cries out to our Lord.
We have all heard the arguments from those who deny the existence of life in the conception of a child. ‘It’s not really a human being.’ they say. Here is the truth of the Word of God, written by His servant David.
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. [Ps 139:13-16]
Or from Jeremiah, the prophet of God:
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” [Jer 1:4-5]
Maybe you have heard the argument of preventing the birth of a child who is deformed or has some sort of disease is actually a blessing to the parents who would have to care for a disabled child. If this were God’s will, then why would He send His only Son into a world of people deformed by sin and disabled in their ability to worship God?
Why would Jesus heal the lame, the leprous and the blind? Why would God allow His children to struggle in their misshapen, bent and diseased bodies? Why did not God just abort His creation?
The answer to all these questions is Love. God loves His children no matter what they look like, no matter how sinful they are. God knows His creation and the life of every living thing in his creation. From the conception to its grave, our Father in heaven sees every flash of synapse, every heartbeat, and every breath in our God given life.
Jesus Christ came into our flesh, born of a woman, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ was alive as a human being from that first moment, not at 3 weeks, or 24 weeks or at 9 months, but at the very second of His conception.
The grace of God was shown through His love when He sent His Son into the flesh. He sent His Son to live in a deformed and diseased world so that all who hear and believe might be saved. In his life, Jesus continued the saving grace of His Father by healing us of our sin. He did not look upon us as ‘mistakes’, or ‘accidents’ that needed to be destroyed.
Even those who were considered vile, loathsome, and repulsive received His blessing. The prostitute who washed our Lord’s feet received forgiveness for her sins. A tax collector was made His disciple. Even Judas Iscariot lived to fulfill his part in the plan of our Father in heaven to save us all.
We are all precious to God. [Ps 139:13] Christ offered Himself up to death on the cross to purchase and win every human life. This is not a ‘social’ issue. Life is not ours to create or destroy. Only God gives life and only God can redeem that life through His Son.
We have the promise of life eternal through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We now live in Christ, should we not also live for Christ? We are sinners, this is true, but we are also redeemed by our Lord and Savior. This is the promise given to us through the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we are often ridiculed for being intolerant, unbending and narrow minded. We are accused of refusing to change. For such people many truths exist. They justify their sin with the foolishness of human wisdom.
We who are the body of Christ will give offense in speaking the truth; do not think it will not happen. What we must do is speak with truth and love and let the Holy Spirit, the very life-giving breath of God, change the hearts and minds of our neighbor, because we are our brother’s keepers.
It will be difficult to speak salvation to the lost, but we are commanded by our Lord to speak that good news to them. We may be considered narrow minded because we speak the truth, but there are only two ways to live as Christ tells us in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. [Matt 7:13-14]
May we all pass through that narrow gate which leads to life.