Biblical Texts: Luke 2:22-40, Romans 1:18-32, Psalm 34:4-8
Full Sermon Draft
There have been a string of national and then local tragedies. Unfortunately this sermon is something of a continuation of one just two weeks ago. I never meant for there to be a continuation, but events experienced called for it. In the middle of joyful events – like Christmas – as Simeon will say to Mary, there are swords to the heart.
I reviewed that sermon from Dec 16th a little, and I think it is the proper response for an individual. And one individual, ourselves, is all we can actually control (the fruit of the spirit of self-control – Gal 5:23). But that sermon left something unexplained or unexamined. What about the collective us? We ask questions like “what have we become?” And that question comes off the lips of a man who in no way has become what he is pondering, yet he supplies the “we”. It is another form of the “why?” question – why do such atrocities happen, one that actual betrays a developed conscience in that responsibility is placed on the right people. If we are asking “why me”, that individual question is not something that God tends to answer. But, if we are asking collectively, “why us” or “what have we become”, then I believe God has given us an answer, through St. Paul in Romans 1.
The first sin is forgetting or abandoning God. A trespass of the first commandment. From that trespass come all the others. Sin is both the cause of our troubles and the judgment. When we abandon God, He hands us over to our sins. When you are looking at a larger culture, that can get very evil very quickly. And if Paul is right (which I believe he is), the end point of that isn’t just sins but a collective culture that gives approval to their practice (Rom 1:32).
Why have we become a greedy, violent, lustful, callous, warlike and spiritually barren people? Because we have collectively abandoned the fear of God. And He has handed us collectively over to the rot of our collective culture.
What is the gospel? First, Simeon’s song. My eyes have seen your salvation/That you have prepared in the presence of all peoples/A light for revelation to the Gentiles/And the glory of your people Israel. God has sent a savior in Jesus Christ and we have seen his light. God doesn’t make false promises, and today is still a day of grace. Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near. Second, our hope is not in this flesh or this collective people. Our hope is in the resurrection and the New Jerusalem. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them (Psalm 34:7).