August 20, 2017: 11th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, although we live in a world of continuous confusion, we have one thing to rely upon which is constant: You and Your timeless love for us. Thank You for such a profound gift! And since we possess such timeless wisdom, move us to exercise it and put it to good use, both in our own lives and in the lives of the people we touch. Amen


TEXT: Romans 8: 35-39

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Recently my lovely wife and I have pondered the ages of the pre-flood patriarchs and what their longevity meant to the people of that time period. Adam lived 930 years. His son, Seth, lived 912 years. His son, Enosh, lived 905 years. Various other progeny of this line lived around 900 years, too. And to cap it off, the oldest human being, Methuselah, lived 969 years! From the Genesis record, these people were basically robust and “with it” for almost all of those years. Their minds remained sharp, their bodies remained fairly strong. So, can you imagine the wisdom, knowledge, and perspective on life they possessed and were able to pass down to their progeny? You see a lot in 900 years! You learn even more. So, what cancer cures, what medical wisdom, what insights into human psychology, what mistakes and failures and subsequent “fixes” did they know about and share? To say that these great patriarchs were the smartest people to ever walk the planet is not a stretch, at all…

Certainly we need such wisdom and perspective today. Some older folks possess a bit of it, but alas, we’re a youth-oriented culture in which seasoned citizens are ignored, thought of as “out-of-date” and basically shunted off to rest homes to die in order to make way for the younger generation. Those of us still breathing can recall WWII and even the Great Depression where horrible evil and desperate need were endured and gotten past. We can recall the out-of-control ’60’s and early ’70’s when the Boomers thought they knew it all, reacted against the past and found out they weren’t so smart after all. America was torn apart by the Vietnam war. But the country survived and those “old, white, colonialist founding fathers who penned the Constitution were proved wise beyond modern measure. Today it seems that every generation or two has to learn the hard lessons of life all over again. Oh for the generations of those Biblical patriarchs in which wisdom in handling problems was passed down and emotional catastrophes were often averted because of it!


Our modern world is a mess. The older generation got us into it via neglect, apathy, laziness and hubris. Our younger generations have made it worse by building on those sins and adding their own dose of pride and arrogance to the mix. We need a timeless touchstone to anchor our approach to life and our understanding and handling of it all. We need something to anchor us amid all the human insecurities we see floating around. And that brings us to The Bible and specifically today’s lesson. For there we find both timeless truths and timeless comfort in a world gone mad.


St. Paul’s words and the situation they describe are timeless. They resonate in every epoch and each generation of human history. If you doubt that what he faced is exactly the same thing as what we face, then you need to listen anew: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” And then Paul goes on by quoting from Psalm 44 written 1000 years before his time when he adds: “As it is written, ‘For your (God’s) sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'” In this catalogue of troubles listed by Paul you can insert any amount of modern problems and subsequent evils known to human beings. In short, Christians suffering in the world of sin is nothing new and never will be.

But then Paul also gives us God’s timeless answer, His solution, to such evil. He gives us the cure for a sinner’s insecurities which serve as a fertile breeding ground for fostering evil. It is this: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Christ conquered all evil on the cross. Christ conquered death, despair, and doubt by His death and resurrection from our graves. Yes, Christ’s timeless love spans the ages and is always there like a monolith to save us from the floodwaters of human sin. It is timeless both in human terms and in eternal terms because it is our Creator’s very nature. As the Apostle John writes: “God is love.”


As I preach, America is again fighting the Civil War, the Revolution, and all the other traumatic events in our history. As I preach, the world is re-fighting ancient hatreds and national disputes long put to rest. It almost seems like the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse are running rampant, doesn’t it? Evil has broken lose and promises to only get more voracious as it seeks to consume people and their souls.

And yet, amid all this evil and discord, the timelessness of St. Paul’s words ring out and summon hurting souls to the Lord Almighty. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When I read those words I’m calmed. Sanity is restored. Thanks be to God! Amen