October 15, 2017: 19th Sunday after Trinity

Let us pray: Dear Savior, when we place ourselves under Your tender, loving care, wonderful changes take place in our lives.  Stress is relieved.  Worry fades.  And a profound happiness and contentment fills us.  Submitting to Your mercy is therefore a wonderful blessing.  May we never pull back from such submission or allow the world to redefine it or mock it in our lives.  Amen


TEXT:  Philippians 2: 1-11

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

One of the best purchases I ever made at a used book store was: “Emily Post’s Book of Etiquette.”   I’ve only had to use it once during my ministry, but it was well worth the dollar I paid!  I originally bought it for weddings.  Specifically to counteract a headstrong mother of the bride.  People have strong emotions at weddings—particularly the mother of the bride.  And they can interject some strange things into the wedding ceremony.  But if you cite Emily Post on the subject, you can usually prevent a problem from occurring!  No mother wants to breach the standards of etiquette at such a time.

Over the past 20 odd years I’ve had another wedding issue come up.  It concerns the traditional vows: “To submit to the husband as to the Lord.”  Because of political correctness, people really dislike that word: submit.  Members know what it means in the Christian context and generally they don’t react too strongly to it.  But, more than one bride has expressed concern that her friends attending just won’t go for that loaded word.  So, I have changed the wording on various occasions to: Reverently honor, instead of submit.  That seems to do the trick and it means the same thing in the Christian context.


Now, all of you know that for Christians “submit” is not a dirty word.  That’s because it always means: lovingly submit, lovingly honor, another.  Thus, submission is never a dirty word when it is done out of love.

We all submit in love all the time in our lives.  I’ve submitted to having to get up in the middle of the night to nurse a sick dog back to health.—I did so because I loved and cared for them.  Every mother and father here has done the same with their children.  You put their wants and needs above your own because you love them—even if it happens to be terribly inconvenient for you.  When you go off the work you’re submitting yourself and your time for the good of your family—even if work isn’t much fun and you’d rather be elsewhere.  Wives often submerge their ego for their spouse because they love them.  Husbands do the same.  None of those examples are “bad.”  In fact, they are all good.  So, loving submission is never a dirty word.


As God’s child, all of you know that the source of such loving submission stems from none other than our Lord Jesus Christ.  Listen again to what St. Paul says about the profundity of who Christ is and what He agreed to do to save us: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.”

When He was born, Jesus was already God, true God.  He didn’t have to go out and earn it or work for that status, He possessed it fully.  But instead of openly showing it to the world, He hid it beneath frail flesh.  He became literally a “slave” to our sin and ego, He emptied Himself of ego, and agreed to lovingly die on a cross to save us from ourselves.  This is the height of Christian submission.  This is the depth of Godly love towards each of you.  Was submission a dirty word to Christ?  Obviously not.

And what was the result of such submission?  Our salvation, our peace, our hope, our joy, and our life!  “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name.  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”


Christian marriage and all Christian relationships should reflect this truth.  As Paul says, even those “under the earth” the demons must acknowledge that God’s love in Christ shines more brightly than anything else.  And it all begins with His submission to the cross to save us and our submission to Him born of that love.

Is this great truth predominant in your life?  Are your proud because God’s Son has saved little old you?  Do you seek to show it daily by submitting to His holy will and showing love and compassion to all you meet?  Do you seek to find yourself by losing yourself, your ego, submerging it in His love?  You know that every single sin, everything that makes you feel guilty, has been wiped away and eternally forgiven by Christ’s dying for it on the cross.  Therefore we have no fear as fear stems from non-love, from guilt.  So, now, submitting yourself to His love means a life of guilt-free responsibility towards Him and others.  But if it’s all motivated by love, it’s actually one big huge blessing.  And that’s why every tongue can confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

So, next time you’re grumpy at being awakened from a dead sleep by a sick child, or having to put yourself out for another person, submitting to their needs, I want you to remember that fact.  Such loving submission was good enough for Christ when it came to saving your soul.  So, focus on that and then your attitude will be the same as that of Christ Jesus!  Amen