Sermon from Sunday April 28th 2013 / Fifth Sunday of Easter
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese /April 28th / 5th Sunday in the Season of Easter, Romans 16.
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.
Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
(Romans 16 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. So ends St. Paul’s Letter to the Christians in Rome, and so ended our Thursday evening Youth/Young Adults Bible Study a couple of weeks ago. At the time I had already started thinking of new members’ Sunday, and then last Sunday night I sat down here for the Lutheran Layman’s League Queen City Exhibition Fair Booth Ministry Fundraiser and this passage came to mind again as Richie Hall the Defensive Coordinator for the Saskatchewan Roughriders spoke of his Christian Faith; then I was sitting down to the Camp Lutherland Fundraiser on Wednesday night and I thought of this passage again. This passage from St. Paul just kept coming up as I thought about today, as I prepared for our new members Sunday here at Mount Olive.
We sometimes refer to Romans as a Book of the Bible, and you’ve also heard it said many times that it’s really a letter, and this is most certainly true. St. Paul is writing a letter, and for those of us who at some point actually sat down and wrote a letter, there are some hallmark features in a letter: There are the introductions and the main point of the letter but then at the end are often found the greetings, things like “Tell my sister that I love her,” or “make sure to tell aunt June that I should be back in time for her birthday ... I know how much she likes having us all together on her birthday!” St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is no different when it comes to style, but it is a bit different in substance, because these are not family members in the conventional way, yes they are family, they are all part of the family of God, Tryphaena and Tryphosa, Gaius and Rufas, Hermes and Hermas are all children of God and they are all family together in Christ Jesus, but they are also part of a team. They had all been part of helping Saint Paul share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world. I’ve heard it described that they were all part of St. Paul’s team, but of course that would be stopping short, for they, with Paul, and you and I, are all part of Jesus Christ’s team.
The reason I started to think about this passage while listening to Richie Hall was because he made such a clear distinction about the difference between being on and team and being part of a team: he had said that it’s not as hard to be on an team as it is to be part of a team, and this is true. It’s not hard, in the grand scheme of things even, to become a member of a congregation of Christians, to be on the membership list; but it is more of a challenge to be part of a congregation of Christians, to be a part of Jesus Christ’s team here in this place. Being part of the team requires sacrifice of time, talent and treasures, and I know that there have been times in my life where I was on the membership list somewhere but I wasn’t really a part of the congregation, Times where I was not acting like one who was part of Jesus’ team, in fact it still happens, there are days when if St. Paul was sitting down to write a letter to the Christians of Regina I might not make the cut at the end of the letter. Praise be to God for the forgiveness found only in Christ Jesus, because you and I and even St. Paul can’t count superstardom as a personal virtue or an attribute of our lives before the judgement seat of God the Father, for “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on [Christ Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” There is but one Superstar Christian and that is Jesus, and therefore, because of the all sufficient grace of God, praise be His name, being part of Jesus’ team isn’t about making the cut; you don’t need to be a superstar Christian to be on Jesus’ team, if it were up to how well you play ball as a Christian you’d never make the cut. If it was up to having a good show at training camp you’d never make the cut. Jesus has made the cut for you: Jesus is the one who gets you on His team, who makes you a part of it. How does all this happen?
No single one of us can claim credit for the work done here for Jesus, in this Letter to the Romans we see how many men and women all contributed to the work of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world, how even the letter itself was dictated by Paul and written down by Tertius for the benefit of others.
The reason I started to think about this passage when I sat down at the Lutherland Fundraiser was because of this last little bit of encouragement given by St. Paul to the Christians in Rome, “I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” If you’ve been out to Camp Lutherand for camp in the last number of years you’ll know this is a verse that one of their popular camp songs is taken from, and the kids love to sing it. This exhortation, this encouragement given by Paul, is also for you, and you only can do this, you only can be excellent in what is good, you only can be innocent of evil, you only can have Satan crushed under your feat, because Jesus was and is excellent in what is good, because Jesus was and is innocent of evil, because Jesus did and does have Satan crushed under His feat. All the glory that a team might have in the eyes of the world, all the glory that a congregation of Christians might have in the eyes of the world, it is all truly Christ Jesus’ glory, all Glory be to Him. Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Take heart my dear ones, if you feel like you aren’t on the team because of sin, Jesus is your forgiveness; if you feel that you’ve been benched because of inactivity turn to Jesus for “[you] can do all things through [Jesus] who strengthens [you];” If you feel like the work is too much for you, remember you are part of a team you do not face the work ahead, the path ahead, or the future glory ahead all alone, in the Body of Christ we live, and work, and play together in Him. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Romans 8:16-17
 Isaiah 53:6
 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)
 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39 ESV)
 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13 ESV)
 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 ESV)
 [Jesus says] “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:23 ESV)
 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13 ESV)
 Greet one another with a holy kiss. (2 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)
 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16 ESV)
 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)
 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:27-28 ESV)
 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
 Philippians 4:13