A Sermon for Series C Proper 14 2016 “Faith in ….?”

Old Testament Lesson  Genesis 15:1-6

Second Lesson  Hebrews 11:1-16

Gospel Lesson  Luke 12:22-34

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.  The text for our meditation this day is the Gospel lesson just read.  [Luke 12:22-34]

What a year!  More than ever, our country appears to be divided; and a lot of the reasons why involve the campaign tactics of the two presidential candidates, tactics they used even when they were only the ‘presumptive’ presidential candidates of their parties.  The division seems to be almost even; and many of the political commentators are marking this as ‘an election like no other’.

But looking back in history, there are certainly presidents who governed a bitterly divided country, and yet are remembered as great leaders; presidents who were God fearing, leaders you could say with confidence you had faith in.  Abraham Lincoln was one of those presidents; leading a nation so divided it saw brother fighting brother in a war so contentious that in some parts of our country its virtues are still debated even to this day.

And what about today?  Who should we put our faith in today?  Some say Trump, some say Hillary.  Some say our faith should be in the Republican Party, others insist our faith be placed in the Democrat party.  Still others want nothing to do with political parties at all; arguing that our faith should be placed in a union of world leaders, like the United Nations; and others say that our faith should be placed in religious leaders.  Roman Catholics say the Pope.  Missouri Synod folks say Matthew Harrison, or at least a majority of them do.

And then there are the ‘non-religious’ people who prefer to have faith in the philosophers of our age.  Thinking the purest and most faithful thoughts would come from those who think on a much higher plane than common men and women.

But what happens when these people, these leaders, fail us?  What happens to our faith?  Does it dissolve?  Do we find a new hope to place our faith in; or do we despair?  Do we become anxious and unsure of life and our future?

Maybe, instead of asking who to place our faith in, the better question would be what should we place our faith in?  That would be more in line with what our society professes.  If the question is what instead of who then we could put our faith in a lot of things; for one, we could put our faith in the economy.  After all, there are plenty of millionaires out there.  Putting our faith in the stock market and our possessions might be just the right thing to do.

Or, if not the economy and our possessions, then maybe we could put our faith in the basic inherent goodness of mankind; the charitable, loving, tolerant mankind we see presented daily in the news.  And if not the economy, or mankind, we could elect to put our faith in creation itself; wonderful, beautiful Mother Nature that provides us with everything we need for the ‘good life’.  When the question becomes what rather than who to place our faith in, our options really expand.

But what happens when these things fail us?  What happens when the stock market crashes just when we need it?  What happens when the hostile, fed up, angry members of our tolerant society lash out, taking innocent lives in revenge for the injustices they see?  What happens when climate change turns Mother Nature against us in violent storms or rapidly moving wildfires that take back the good life and everything in it?

What happens to our faith?  Does it dissolve?  Do we find a new hope to place our faith in; or do we despair?  Do we become anxious and unsure of life and our future?

Let’s face it, no man, no woman, can be perfectly trustworthy.  We’re all sinners and at some point we all fail.  We disappoint.  We make taking care of ourselves a higher priority than those we love.  We get angry when we should be patient.

And no institution, no government, no religious organization, can be perfectly trustworthy; because institutions are led by imperfect people, sinful people.  Neither can nature be trustworthy, it cannot, it is not, perfectly dependable.  The rain we need may come in the form of hail stones, or it may come in inches per hour and flood us out, or it may not come at all; not even for weeks on end.  The fury of tornadoes, and the all-consuming heat of wild fires attest to the imperfection of nature.

Of course we’re anxious.  Of course we worry.  Just look at the world we live in; nature fails us, government fails us, religious institutions fail us; even family and friends at one time or another fail us.  There are wars and rumors of wars.  There’s chaos in the streets and injustice abounds!

So how can Jesus tell us not to be anxious about our lives?  I mean, that’s what he said: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.”  He says it, and he means it.  He says it because he is the author of all life.  He is the creator of all things and the life that he creates is more than food, and the body that he creates is more than clothing; and he knows it.  Our God is our creator.  He is our Savior.  He is the Spirit who gives us our faith; our treasure in heaven.

God is always dependable.  He is the one and only in whom we can place our faith.  He makes us his children as surely as he did Abram.  He walks with us as surely as he walks with Enoch.  He hears our prayers as surely as he heard Abel.  All this he does through the faith he poured into us in our Baptism; the faith he alone nourishes and strengthens with his own body and blood in Holy Communion; and through his holy Word he keeps us in the faith.

This is the one to have faith in; the only one to have faith in; the one who remained perfectly dependable even though it cost him his life.  The pure and holy one who became sin itself so that you could be declared pure and holy.  The author of life, the one who is life itself, who accepted death so that you might never die, but have life forever.

Even when you are not faithful, he remains faithful.  This is the one, the only one, and he’s your Lord and Savior, your only Lord and Savior, who has the power and authority to say to you: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

In Christ’s service,

Pastor Huelle