July 16, 2017: 6th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, with love comes responsibility. When we love others, we’re responsible for helping them and assisting them in times of trouble. Likewise, since You love us, You shouldered the responsibility of saving our souls. And when we love You, we assume the challenges of living a life worthy of Your love. May we never shirk any of our loving responsibilities in life or take them for granted. Amen


Text: Romans 6: 1-11

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

I believe that America is headed for a fall. Not the “Fall” of September leaves or late October’s slanting amber rays of sunshine, but a physical, emotional, and economic fall of power and excess. I’ve studied history. I’ve studied empires that clawed their way to the top, plateaued, and then disintegrated. And there have been many of them over the centuries.

Our crime, our sin, is cultural excess coupled with arrogant pride. Both are in abundant supply right now. We think we’re smarter and wiser than any generation that has gone before. We believe that technology will save us from catastrophic wars, from pestilence, from famine, and from a lower standard of living. We celebrate excess as seen by the Hollywood culture of “being famous because you’re famous,” the real estate market of dream homes that people will never pay off, and the modern thrall (slave) collar of cell phones cloned to everyone’s ear. Rome had its “bread and circuses” to keep the masses from seeing just how hollow and empty the empire had become. We have the internet and mass media which cheerlead and mesmerize in the same way. And the sad fact is: when there is no money the carousel stops. Today, debt reigns supreme around the entire world. Debt that is mathematically impossible to ever pay off.


Amid all this our text seems like a throw-back to a forgotten era. Imagine!—People once actually worried about sinning against God and risking His judgment? Imagine!—People in Rome once reveled in their excesses, excusing their behavior by saying: “God is love so it doesn’t matter;” and on the other hand some actually believed Paul when he said: “May this never be!”? But, who needs that kind of negative, downer, talk today? After all, we live in a new era where humans are in charge, God is forgotten, and the old rules of: right, wrong, moderation, and responsibility don’t apply to us any longer! Right?

But, I’ll let you in on a secret that America needs to relearn. Here it is: God isn’t dead. God isn’t outmoded. The human soul is eternal. And a time of great soul-searching will come to our land once again. And when it does, where will you turn? Who will help you? Who will comfort you and allay your fears? Death stalks every single living organism, including you. When it gets close, where is America’s solution to death? Where is yours?

St. Paul says: “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”


Another word for sin is excess. The negative excess of pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, apathy—all those things Americans don’t give much thought to because they have simply become our way of life. When Christ died on the cross, guilt, shame and eternal punishment for such excess also died. And then He replaced it with love, responsible love. Love which never quits. Love which continues to love even when others abuse its goodness. Being baptized means God has put this reality into your heart and inscribed it into your soul. You as a Christian possess it. So, even though we all have to live with the consequences of earthly excess, we don’t have to live with it forever. In fact, even now we can adopt a better, more moral and honest way of life. When bad times come to America, you, dear Christian can pray! You can talk to God knowing He is listening! Likewise, you possess inner strength beyond that of most neighbors. For unlike them, you have a purpose in life far beyond money, wealth, or power. Your purpose is to change lives from the inside out with God’s love! Unlike most people, you, dear Christian, recognize the truth. You possess whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy. This is your inner core. And it means you’ll have peace in your soul when everyone else goes to pieces. Sin breeds fear. Christ conquered sin for us, so we can now live without being slaves to fear because our future is secure in His love! All this is what “being freed from sin” means.

Lately I’ve been feeling a lot like Jeremiah of the Old Testament whose job it was to warn the people of what awaited the folly of their excessive lives. I believe tough times are coming for America. That means we’ll all be swept up by it, as well. But, no matter how bad events get, ultimately, we’ll come out of it as winners and not losers. The excess of sin is a loser’s bet. The humbleness of faith is a winner’s wager. That’s because even earthly death cannot destroy our new eternal life in Christ. Or, as St. Paul says so well elsewhere: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Amen