First Lesson: Jeremiah 2: 4-13
Responsive Reading: Psalm 1, 10-16
Second Lesson: Hebrews 13: 1-8, 15-16
Gospel Lesson: Luke 14: 7-14
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Let me begin with a story. When I was at Luther Seminary, I managed the Seminary’s mail room. One Saturday a gentleman came into the building where the Olson Campus Center which was the location of the mail room. The gentleman said he lived across the street, which was plausible with the number of students it was hard to keep track of neighbors. The gentleman was clean-cut and looked like a guy living in Saint Anthony Park would look going about his business on a Saturday morning. The gentleman had a dilemma; he had locked himself out of his house. He needed to call a locksmith. He only needed $20, before the locksmith would get to work. He needed a loan because his wallet was in his house. This gentleman promised to come back within a half-hour with $40 and an offer to buy lunch for whoever helped him out. Now being good Lutheran seminarians, you want to be trusting of your neighbors. I handed the gentleman $20 then waited around for a couple of hours only to never see this gentleman again. Now everyone hearing this story can point out plenty of problems with this scenario. There are people out who by their nature always end up on the short-end of the stick of these arrangements hence the title of Today’s sermons.
Let me ask a question, though “Is being a sap or sucker always bad?”
A few months back, I read a book by Adam Grant titled Give and Take. Grant’s specialty is in Organizational Psychology. Grant’s book describes three types of people that you will meet in the office, but we could easily apply to life in general.
The first type of person is a taker. Takers are ruthless. Takers make sure to get the better end of every deal. Takers are always in competition with others. Takers will always let you know of their accomplishments. Many people think you need to be a taker to get anywhere in the world.
How do takers operate? I have a friend who I’ll call Dale. Dale lived in Fargo when I attended Concordia. Dale and I would go out to eat quite a bit. Dale’s policy on tipping at restaurants was interesting. Dale would start out with a small albeit low amount. Dale would stiff the waitress/waiter on a tip at any real or perceived slight of service. Dale was always thinking about what was in it for him. Dale was always on the defensive about people taking advantage of him. Dale would be the first person lecturing me about my foolish giving away of money. Certainly not everyone is as extreme as Dale without being a doormat.
The second type of person is a matcher. Matchers are all about fairness. You want to give to others just as much as you receive in return. Matchers will give favors for favors. Matchers will give back scratches to get back scratches.
Matchers make sense as people. If I walk down to Zup’s, and when I see some delicious fatty, red meat, the scenario from this point forward is relatively straightforward. I will then make the decision that I would rather have the red meat than the money, and Zup’s would rather have the money than the red meat. Seemingly everyone wins in this interaction, so most people won’t admit to being takers, but being a matcher doesn’t seem like a bad deal. A matcher might ask for collateral before offering to give any sort of money to a total stranger. So matchers seem sensible.
The third type of person that Grant describes could be called all kinds of things they could be called a sap, a sucker, but Grant calls them “givers.” Givers are about giving more than they receive. Givers are about giving their time without receiving any obvious benefit in return. Givers would be the type of people where the saying that nice guys finish last could be apt. Givers would do things like hand money to complete strangers trusting that they will return it.
What can we say about givers? When studies were conducted about who were the least successful: engineers, salespeople, and medical school students , givers were at the bottom. Givers seem to be just too caring, and too trusting to advance in the world. So if givers are at the bottom of the ladder.
Who is at the top? Again, it’s the givers. Givers can be both champs and chumps at the same time? So our question this morning is this “How do givers get to the top”? Givers are able to ask for help for help when they need it. Givers realize that they can never get anywhere alone.
Now as you picture givers, takers, and matchers that you now in your life.
Let’s talk about Our Gospel lesson for today from Luke 14. Luke 14 takes place right after Jesus heals the crippled woman on the Sabbath. Jesus is dining at the home of a Pharisee.
Now to understand our lesson, you need to understand the world in which Jesus lived. The whole Greco-Roman world operated via a class system. You had the “patricians” who were the elites; you had the “plebs” who were the commoners. Lastly, you had non-citizens and slaves who were entirely separate class from these. For many generations, the classes could not intermarry. Within Jesus’ day, the various classes didn’t have a lot of interaction with each other. When I read Kent Kaiser’s book Company Town, Reserve’s Hat System would not be entirely dissimilar to the social realities of Jesus’ day.
So Jesus is having dinner with a group of Pharisees. The Pharisees would have been the religious big shots of Jesus’ day. The Pharisees would have been made up of scholars and other political/religious elite. Now with Jesus being the center of attention, everyone wanted to sit the closest to him.
My Dad and I have been to more sporting events over the years then I could even begin to count. Occasionally, we’ll spot two open seats better than where we are sitting. Dad without hesitation will seek to claim the better seat, whereas I’m more cautious. I would much rather stay in our regular seats for the whole game. What happens if someone is sitting in our seats? Dad acts like it’s no big deal, whereas deep down I’m annoyed. It’s hard to shake the idea from my head that someone should get something as simple as a seat they don’t deserve.
Now back to Jesus having dinner with the Pharisees. The Pharisees have their ranks and the thinking goes that those at the top of the Pharisee food-chain should get the seats that are the closest to Jesus. How do you determine which Pharisee has paid forth the most spiritually to sit on the fifty-yard line of Jesus’ presence?
Jesus says the Pharisees understand his kingdom all wrong? “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”- Luke 14:11.
How can we make sense of Jesus’ words? Let me tell another story: In 1994, my hometown of Lindstrom was having its centennial celebration. We wanted a keynote speaker with local ties. Nils Hasselmo who was at the time the President of the University of Minnesota agreed to come. Hasselmo was a perfect fit: born in Sweden, spent a summer in Lindstrom growing up, spent his teaching career as Chair of the Scandinavian Studies department. After Hasselmo’s speech, my parents were in charge of organizing a reception for dignitaries from the community with Hasselmo as the guest of honor. My grandparents hosted the event at a lovely setting on South Center Lake. My parents hired a caterer who they had known for a long time. The caterer put together a nice spread with just one problem. When the caterer was bringing the food into the house, he dropped the chicken salad. The glass bowl shattered. The caterer though refused to chalk this up to a loss, so he decides to put the chicken salad in merely another bowl. Let’s just say this was the first chicken salad recipe to contain shards of glass and it was served to one of the most distinguished men in the State of Minnesota.
What this story reminds us is that even those at the head of the table will face unexpected trials throughout the course of life. Jesus is saying today that our shared human experience is such that who gets the closest seat is pretty much irrelevant.
So Jesus in our lesson for today wants to address two key things. 1. Who sits where at the Pharisees’ dinner party? 2. Who is invited to the party?
The list of people that Jesus wants to see invited is not just limited to his family, his friends, or the rich. Jesus wants to invite those that are never going to be able to give him an invitation that’s any good at all. Jesus wants the pro-wrestling, monster truck loving, non-religious management crowd at any party that he’s going to be.
Jesus being a preacher of grace was going to operate as a giver. Jesus was going to invite to the banquet even the guy that conned me out of $20, even if I stood outside protesting. If you understand the politics and class-system of Jesus’ day, then you begin to understand how radical his message truly is in reaching out to cripples, foreigners, lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, and all kinds of other sinners. What Jesus is saying is this. The Kingdom of God isn’t you where you take something to receive something. In the words of Steve Molin “The Kingdom of God is about being invited to a place where you don’t belong to be”. The Kingdom of God is about giving you a place of honor regardless of what events in life previously have brought you to this place.
So how should we understand Jesus’ Words that the humbled being exalted, and the exalted being humble? What should our interpretation be of the first being last and the last being first? What should you think about saps and suckers?
Remember the Christian Faith is not about claiming the best seats in the house for ourselves. The Christian Faith is rather about God giving us an invitation to the party handed to us by Jesus. Amen
 Grant, Adam. Give and Take. Penguin Books. New York. 2013. Print. P.4.
 Grant, Adam. Give and Take.P. 5.
 Grant, Adam. Give and Take.P. 5
 Grant, Adam. Give and Take..P. 7
 Analogy based on Grant’s language from P.10 of Give and Take.
 Luke 14:1, 7-14.
 “Social Class in Ancient Rome”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 24.May.2016. Web. Aug.23.2016.
 “Nils Hasselmo”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 17.Mar.2016. Web. Aug.23.2016.
 Brown, Jeannine. “Commentary on Luke 14:1,7-14.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 29. Aug.2010. Web. Aug.23.2016.
 Molin, Steve. “Friends in Low Places.” Lectionary.org. 2001.
 Similar statement from Jesus’ ministry found in Matthew 19:30, 20:16.
First Lesson: Jeremiah 1: 4-10
Responsive Reading: Psalm 71: 1-6
Second Lesson: Hebrews 12: 18-29
Gospel Lesson: Luke 13: 10-17
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Robert Holmes gives the following anecdote. There once was a farmer who put a want ad in a farm journal. The ad read “Wanted: a woman in her thirties interested in marriage who owns a tractor. Please send a picture of the tractor.” What this ad illustrates is how easy it might be to lose perspective of what’s crucial in a given situation. We come across such a situation in our Gospel lesson for today.
Our Gospel contains three main characters. The first character is a hunched back woman, the second is a rabbi and the third is Jesus.
Let me tell a story when I was in Lamberton; we had a woman in the congregation that I’ll call Lena. Lena couldn’t make it to church so I would visit her at home every month. Two things that I noticed about Lena the first time I met her. Lena was as hunched over as any woman that I’ve ever seen. The second point I noticed is that Lena’s home might have been the least kept that I’ve ever set my feet. Catalogs and newspaper ads from decades ago lined the floor. I couldn’t begin to venture a guess since that the last time the kitchen sink had been cleaned. When I visited with Lena, all I had to ask her was “How everything was going?” and I didn’t have to say another word for the next 45 minutes. Lena longed for human contact. Once in a while, I would see Lena uptown. The interesting thing about this is people tended to avoid Lena. Lena wasn’t unpleasant or mean-spirited in any way. But because of Lena’s condition people didn’t know what to say to her or do for her. You would see Lena and long for her back to be healed.
As I describe Lena this morning, I want you to now to picture the hunchback woman from our Gospel lesson. This lady had been hunched over for eighteen long years. I don’t imagine this woman to be a regular Saturday Synagogue goer. This woman had heard though about a new preacher giving a different kind of message. She decides to show up to hear him on this day. Jesus immediately notices this woman. Let’s be honest; she would have been pretty hard to miss. Jesus approaches this woman and pretty soon she is crippled no more. The people began to cheer this healing! Why wouldn’t everyone be happy?
The second character in this story is the Rabbi. Most people will read this story and think of the Rabbi being a bad guy. Why would the Rabbi not want this woman healed on the Sabbath? Here’s the thing though the Rabbi knew the scriptures well.
Steve Molin describes the Sabbath regulations best: “If a pregnant woman went into labor on the Sabbath, you MIGHT be able to help her deliver her baby. MIGHT. If you’re child broke his arm, you could put it in a sling, but you could not run cold water over it. If your daughter cut her finger, you could put a bandage on it, but you could not apply any ointment; that would be working on the Sabbath.”
Molin illustrates how you were not to do any work on the Sabbath. Here’s how a Jew in Jesus’ day would have understood the Sabbath. The Ten Commandments came after the Exodus from Egypt. In the days of Egyptian slavery, the Israelites would never have gotten a day off. Now think of the weather these past few weeks. Now imagine, working in the hot sun day after day after day without rest in the much, much warmer climate of Egypt. Now think of the importance of having a Sabbath day of rest. The Rabbi’s point was the following. Jesus could have healed this woman any other day of the week.
How did the Rabbi see this healing? To understand the Rabbi think of the anecdote of the boiling frog, you put a frog in boiling water (the frog will immediately jump out), but if you put the frog in tepid water then slowly raise the heat then the frog ends up boiling alive. The Rabbi wasn’t just concerned with this healing; the Rabbi was worried about a slippery slope where pretty soon the people of Israel were doing everything and anything but attending the Synagogue on the Sabbath day. So if you understand the Rabbi’s role in the story this way, then perhaps not healing this woman on the Sabbath might make sense.
So we understand the hunch-back woman, we understand the Rabbi, so now let’s figure out why Jesus dared to heal on these most sacred of days.
To understand Jesus’ thoughts on the Sabbath let’s look at his words from Mark 2:
“And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
You see Jesus knew the rules. Jesus knew the rules so well that he was able to out-debate the smartest religious scholars of his day at age 12 in the Temple.
Jesus’ point was not that the Sabbath was a bad thing.
The Sabbath is about what God can do for us, not what we can do for God. We get the Sabbath day all wrong when we think of it existing for God’s benefit rather than our own.
Dr. Armand Boehme tells this story. “One individual noted that going to church and listening to sermons was not doing her any good. Church was a waste of time because she couldn’t remember what had been preached two weeks prior. This woman decided that she was going to stop coming to church and soon dump religion altogether. The Pastor then asked her “If she can remember what she ate for Sunday dinner two weeks ago?” Her response was “Of course not! How could I remember that!” So the Pastor said, “Then perhaps you should stop eating since you can’t remember what you ate; the meal couldn’t have done you any good!” Her response was, “Well, of course, it did me some good since I am still alive. The food nourished my body.”
“So” replied the Pastor, “the food did you some good even though you can’t remember what you ate! So it is with the Word of God. As the food nourished your body, so the Word nourished your soul and kept you spiritually alive. If you neglect to feed your soul, you will die spiritually just as surely as you would die physically if you stopped eating food. No more comment was necessary and the lady kept coming to church to be fed and nourished by God’s Word and the Sacraments!”
Jesus’ point about the Sabbath was that the letter of the law was and is important. “Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep it Holy” but remember the Sabbath exists for our benefit, not God’s. And if a woman can’t remember her supper or a sermon from two weeks back, then think of the impact upon a woman that had been healed after being hunched over for 18 years.
Here’s another story why the Spirit of the Law is more important than the Letter of the Law.
At the turn of the 19th century, the country of Norway was in shambles. Poverty and drunkenness were both running rampant. Norway’s State Church was more interested in seeing that the citizenry possessed Seminary type belief even if it didn’t connect to their lives. Into this crisis comes a man named Hans Nielsen Hauge. Hauge grew up poor and lacking in education. The Spirit of God one day touched Hans Nielsen Hauge and he began to preach. Hauge’s preaching wouldn’t have earned him an “A” in seminary. Hauge was arrested for not being a licensed preacher many times. People accused Hans Nielsen Hauge of practicing “witchcraft”. Hans Nielsen Hauge saw the Spirit of the Law as being more important though than the Letter of the Law. Hauge’s movement eventually began to revitalize Norway. Hauge’s writings and sermons began a revival throughout Norway. Hauge’s influence began to cause men to put down the alcohol and become better husbands and fathers. Hauge’s mission took up the cause to find factories and mills throughout Norway. A simple, uneducated lay preacher started to help lift the nation of Norway out of poverty. Many regard Hans Nielsen Hauge as one of Norway’s greatest heroes. They said Hauge shouldn’t preach; they also said that Jesus shouldn’t heal on the Sabbath.
The Norwegians could have waited for the right preacher to come around. Just like there were six other days of the week that Jesus could have healed this hunch-back woman. The thing is Jesus would always place the person as the priority rather than the way that things had been done before. You see later in Jesus’ ministry he would encounter people who were guilty of sin. Jesus heard these people say and do all kinds of nasty things to him. No one else would dare do what Jesus did because it just wasn’t right. The thing is that Jesus was always about placing God’s people at the center of his ministry rather than rules about what had been done before. So therefore, Jesus was going to set the woman’s hunched back straight. When the rules tell Jesus one thing, he will always come marching on out of the grave. Amen.
 Holmes, Robert. “Beyond Change to Transformation”. Day 1.org. 26. Aug.2001. Web. Aug. 15.2016.
 Luke 13:10-17.
 Molin, Steve. “Maybe Resting on Sabbath is Overrated.” Lectionary.org. 2004. Web. Aug.15.2016.
 Lose, David. “The Law of Love.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 18. Aug.2013. Web. Aug.15.2016.
 Mark 2:27
 Luke 2:41-52.
 Pastor Boehme serves at Trinity Lutheran in Northfield, Minnesota. I previously used this analogy during a October 10th, 2010 sermon given at Our Savior’s in Lamberton, Minnesota. I have previously met Pastor Boehme and thanked him for use of this analogy.
 “Hans Nielsen Hauge”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 09. June.2016. Web. Aug.16.2016.
First Lesson: Isaiah 5: 1-7
Responsive Reading: Psalm 80: 1-2, 8-19
Second Lesson: Hebrews 11: 29- 12:2
Gospel Lesson: Luke 12: 49-56
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
“If you can’t fly run, if you can’t run walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”- Martin Luther King Jr.
“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house, there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”-Jesus of Nazareth- Luke 12:51-53.
In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus comes at us with some words that probably will catch all of us off-guard “I come not to bring peace but a sword.”
The way to understand this passage is to learn about the context in which these words were spoken. In the earliest days of Christianity, if a Jew converted then he was cut off from his family. If a Roman converted, they were viewed as a fool who was often engaged in treason against the empire.
To understand what it would have been like for people to announce they were converting to Christianity in the 1st century imagine the following scenario: a thriving college student who seems destined for medical school. Now imagine this student announcing to his parents that he intends to drop out of school and follow some band with what Mom and Dad consider awful sounding music all over the world as a roadie. The parents would rightfully think that their child was wasting their life. Now imagine this scenario and as you hear Jesus’ words for today. Imagine now the college student within Jesus’ day confessing to his parents that he was going to become a Christian. Jesus was the ultimate interriant preacher surrounded by seemingly nothing other than deadbeats and hangers-on. Jesus’ realized that following his ministry would create turmoil for the Disciples and those close to them.
Jesus is getting at something very important today as he speaks to the Disciples and that is the importance of mission in the midst of hardship.
One of the more influential books that I’ve ever read is Dr. Nathaniel Branden’s Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Branden seeks to ask the question of this book “How do you keep going in life when everything is working against you whether it is your family or your situation?” Branden’s answer is self-esteem comes from living purposefully out one’s mission.
Let me illustrate how living with a mission might work. Bill Wilson was a thirty-nine-year-old alcoholic. Wilson’s life was a complete mess. His marriage was in shambles and due to the Great Depression, his finances were a ruin. Wilson had lost his job after getting into a booze-induced fight at a country club. Wilson had tried everything from detox to support groups and the only place where Bill Wilson continually found comfort was in the bottle. Wilson eventually meets a friend who told him he recovered due to finding religion. Wilson thought the guy was nuts! Wilson’s life in the latest round of detox would soon change forever. Wilson took a drug that began to cause hallucinations. Wilson finally yelled out in agony “If there is a God, I am ready to do anything.” At that moment, it was almost as if God’s hand reached out to Wilson as he described a “white light filling his room” and “pain ceasing”. Wilson otherwise known as Bill W. would never have another drink the last thirty-seven years of his life. Wilson today is known as the founder of an organization called Alcoholics Anonymous. What forever changed Wilson’s life is expressed in AA’s step three “He turned his will and life over to the care of God as he understood him.” When Wilson was only living life for himself, he had no sense of mission. After his white light experience, the new found mission totally changed Bill Wilson from that day forward.
How might you live out Mission within your life? Let me tell another story; this story involves a personal confession. The year was 2009; I was working down in Lamberton, and the Vikings were playing the San Francisco 49ers. I was watching the game by myself. The Vikings seemed headed for defeat. My parents and sister were at the game. Vikings fans had already left in large numbers. Twelve seconds left in the game, the Vikings new QB Brett Favre hoists a ball to the back of the end-zone. Greg Lewis catches it; the Vikings win the game and the play is known as “The Minneapolis Miracle.”
How did I react to this catch in the privacy of home? I started running around the house as fast as I could, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, I feel down on the ground and started hyperventilating from all the excitement. My breathing wasn’t back to the normal for probably a half- hour.
Why do I tell this story? It has to do with a sense of mission.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Think of only three things: your God, your family and the Green Bay Packers in that order.”
My mission would be the same only with a different football team at the end.
I tell this story with no embarrassment this morning because everyone that knows me would believe it to be true. Your life mission ultimately shapes how you will interact with the world around you for both good and ill. Your mission can either be who everyone else wants you to be or who God calls you to be.
I also tell this story to illustrate Dr. Branden’s point that self-esteem comes from living for something bigger than you. One’s personal mission should cause them to approach the world not with a sense of embarrassment or shame but rather with a purpose even when things get tough.
What Jesus had been hearing about in our Gospel lesson for today was all sorts of conflict. To quote: David Lose “People were fighting within families, synagogues, and the larger public arena”. Jesus kept hearing about all sorts of families being broken up because of their faith. So Jesus seeks to speak to these conflicts involving mission.
Let me tell you a story related to the Olympics this morning. This story was captured in the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire. Eric Liddell was born in China the son of missionaries. As Liddell grows up, he becomes known as the fastest runner in all of Scotland. Liddell’s fame spread as a potential “gold medal” winner. Liddell is one of the favorites at the 1924 Paris Olympics in the 100 meters until he finds out that the prelims were scheduled to run on a Sunday. Eric Liddell refuses to run because of his faith. The British Olympic Committee and even the Prince of Wales try to convince Liddell to change his mind. Liddell’s sake of mission was stronger than any conflict, Liddell’s mission was stronger even than the pull of a potential gold medal.
Your mission in life will probably not be the same as Eric Liddell’s. Your mission like his and will inevitability run into conflict.
What Jesus is illustrating to the Disciples this morning is something very important “If someone says something nasty to you, don’t let this keep you from your mission.”
People certainly said nasty things about Dr. King; people denounced Bill W. as not having been properly trained in counseling; people have certainly made fun of the Minnesota Vikings for having empty trophy cases. The thing about mission is that it can keep a person going even in the midst of divisions and disagreements within your life. Jesus is illustrating potential conflict over life mission in Today’s lesson by citing family conflict as the harshest of potential examples of mission conflict.
Yet Jesus in our Gospel is encouraging people to hang on to mission in one’s hardest of times.
Why cling to mission in the midst of hardship? Let me tell a story about why mission can ultimately bring hope to a person’s life. Henry and Jeanette DeLange were married in 1953. Jeanette DeLange several years back was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Jeanette went into nursing home care in 2011. Henry kept coming to visit Jeanette even with her mind unable to remember (one, two, or three times a day).
For Henry DeLange, his sense of mission to his wife was more important than any personal convenience. Several months back, Henry is diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. The Doctors weren’t able to do anything more for Henry DeLange. Henry eventually ends up in the same nursing home room as his wife, Jeannette. Sunday, July 31st: Jeannette died at 5:10 PM, Henry died at 5:30 PM.
Here’s how their son Lee DeLange described both Mom and Dad’s deaths “mom and dad were Christians. They loved Christ. They wanted so badly to show their love for Christ that they loved one another. It’s natural what they do. For them to be able to be a witness in life, also in death…That’s cool. Really cool.”
For what Henry DeLange’s story illustrates is that mission will not always be easy to live out. Mission will probably cause you to have all sorts of conflicts within your life. Mission might cause you to debate whether to visit your Alzheimer’s ridden-wife or do something simpler with your time. When you sustain mission, it can carry people not only into the grave but beyond the grave itself.
“God gave you this particular mix of talents and abilities because they match up with the mission that he has in mind for you.” -Matthew Kelly.
For let me tell you this morning where many people go wrong in this life. Many people go wrong by spending their days obsessed worrying about how other people are going to judge them. Instead how we should be approaching life is looking towards why God put us in this following time and place. We need not worry about judging other people’s value; we need instead focus on defining our own.
Jesus’ words that we hear today are hard. No one wants division within their life, especially with their families. For plenty of people within our midst, these words that Jesus says about houses being divided hit close to home. No one likes to hear negative feedback in life, especially from one’s family. What these words also indicate is that Jesus understands your pain on this day. Unfortunately, Jesus doesn’t have the words that will instantly heal every rift within this world in this instance. Jesus does have words to help deal with your conflicts. Define your mission! Look towards the cross!
Realize that you alone will not be able to fix all the problems that ail this world. Cling to the hope that there is a power out there that can forgive your past, can guide you in the present, and will save you in the future.
The following is a quote from Matthew 10:34 which parallels our Gospel lesson for today.
 The theme of “mission” in the sake of division comes from Ed Markquart’s sermon “Christ Brings Division” Pentecost 12: Year C. Sermons from Seattle. Web. Aug.9.2016.
 Dr. Branden’s book was originally published by Bantam publishing in 1994. It was republished again in 1995.
 Duhigg, Charles. Power of Habit. Random House. New York. 2014. Paperback Print. Pg.66-71.
 Duhigg, Charles. Power of Habit. Pg.67.
 Duhigg, Charles. Power of Habit. Pg.68.
 Duhigg, Charles. Power of Habit. Pg.70.
 Lombardi quote comes from 2001 Steve Molin sermon “Flashing Yellow Lights” found on lectionary.org.
 Lose, David. “Commentary on Luke 12:49-56”. Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 15. Aug.2010. Web. Aug.9.2016.
 Analogy idea taken from Zingale, Tim. “Cutting Edge”. Sermon Central. August 2001. Web. Aug.9.2016.
 “Eric Liddell”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 29.Jul.2016. Web. Aug.9.2016.
 Collen, Courtney. “ After 63 years of marriage, Platte couple dies 20 minutes apart.” KSFY News (Sioux Falls): ABC. 07.Aug.2016. Web. Aug.8.2016.
 Collen, Courtney. “ After 63 years of marriage, Platte couple dies 20 minutes apart.”
 Collen, Courtney. “ After 63 years of marriage, Platte couple dies 20 minutes apart.”
 Matthew Kelly is a Catholic Motivational Speaker. I got this quote from Saint Mary’s of Silver Bay Parish Secretary Cindy Rowlee.
 The idea for the hard sayings of Jesus came from Pastor Steve Molin’s sermon “A Strange Sort of Peace” copyright 2004 from Lectionary.org.
First Lesson: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Responsive Reading: Psalm 50: 1-8, 22-23
Second Lesson: Hebrews 11: 1-3, 8-16
Gospel Lesson: Luke 12: 32-40
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Susan Webber tells the following story: A preschool Sunday school class was learning about Noah’s Ark. The Teacher to get the kids involved in the lesson decides to play a game.
“I’m going to describe something to you. Let’s see if you can guess what it is. First: I’m furry with a bushy tail and I like to climb trees.”
The children sat there in silence.
“I also like to eat nuts, especially acorns.”
Still no response, the game was a flop.
“I’m usually brown or gray, but sometimes I can be black or red.”
The teacher in an act of desperation decides to call on one outspoken young girl named Michelle. “Michelle, what do you think?”
Michelle looked at her classmates, unsure of herself. Michelle finally blurts out “ Well I know the answer has to be Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”-Hebrews 11:1
Today, we celebrate two major events in the life of our congregation. First, we celebrate our Vacation Bible School this week with the singing of our Little Fishes. Second, we celebrate the Baptism of Olivia.
As we consider the meaning of today’s lesson regarding faith let me point out something important. When Jesus is looking for examples of Faith to point to in the Gospels, he never cites religious scholars or authorities.
Jesus, in fact, accused one of his disciples Peter of having “little faith”. Who Jesus does cite as examples of Faith though is little children.
And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.-Matthew 18:3
Parents might hear these verses and think they don’t make much sense. Children from the youngest of ages seemingly need help with everything from feeding to dressing to getting to school on time to ultimately making wise decisions. Parents, it seems then should be leading the ways in things of faith. But what if our ways of thinking about faith are totally wrong?
What if we as Christian people misunderstand Faith because we associate Faith with intellect rather than trust. Perhaps this is why Jesus encourages us no matter how old we are to follow the example of little children.
Let me raise one of the issues with our understanding of faith. You ask a Christian whether an infant can actually believe and the answer is generally no.
To help understand the meaning of faith let’s look further at how the scriptures describe it.
John the Baptist is described as dancing and being “filled with the Holy Spirit” even when he was residing within his Mother’s womb.
John the Baptist’s story highlights a point later made by Saint Augustine “ You become a believer by being initiated into the faith, rather than by intellectual conversion.”
The Early Church did not see Faith as we often see Faith as merely a private set of beliefs that exists within one’s soul. Where we often misunderstand Faith is thinking of it as some preferred set of beliefs. Faith in the words of Ephesians is rather a gift. Faith given in Baptism is the means by which God declares us to be his adoptive children.
Peter Leithart makes the following point “Should we baptize babies is in fact a similar question to “should we talk to babies?” or even read to young children. Even if Babies can’t understand the conversation, this doesn’t mean that the spoken word won’t shape them for years after the event takes place.
When we consider the meaning of grace this morning, I want you to think of the following. Grace is not abstract; grace comes to us via real symbols of water, wine, and wheat. It is through these symbols that God connects himself to the imperfect situations that are our lives.
What I want you to do this morning is think of the following “How did you know as a young child that you belonged to your parents?”
I imagine that your parents probably hugged you and planted kisses upon you. Even when you weren’t able to understand them, your parents spoke words of promise and comfort to you. Your parents did this because they wanted you to a permanent part of your life though from this day forward. Declaring himself a part of our life moving forward is what God does on the day of our Baptism. God marks and seals us with the Cross of Christ and declares us to be his “forever.”
Let me tell you what’s happening to Olivia on this day. Olivia doesn’t have to do anything within the waters of baptism. Jesus says she’s ok now. Jesus says “I have adopted you as my child.” Olivia’s has faith because Jesus says so. Olivia has salvation because Jesus declared “It to be finished” as he hung upon the cross.
You see Baptism is not about any promises that we make to God. In a number of years, Olivia will hopefully stand before this congregation at her confirmation to confess the faith that we celebrate on this day. What Baptism is ultimately about is God’s promises to us. The following truth is why nowhere in the Bible does anyone ever give a reason (especially age) as why someone shouldn’t be baptized.
Why does Jesus cite Children as examples of faith? For everyone that’s ever been around a child, you know that one of their habits is they will just blurt out what’s on their mind whether it’s appropriate or inappropriate. It is these qualities of openness and trust that point to Baptism’s true meaning.
In the words of Peter Leithart again “All baptisms are infant baptisms; all baptisms call the baptized to childhood.” Childhood is the time in one’s life where people haven’t gotten to experience the brokenness and bitterness that consumes the world all around us. A child doesn’t view the world like an adult views the world. What we often fail to consider is how good a thing that this can be.
Let me tell another story about one of our Little Fishes. A boy was recently at a family event. Mom said that her kids were going to Vacation Bible School. One of the relatives didn’t care for this at all. Mom didn’t want to use this event to start a discussion about religion. The guy kept going on though about “When has God ever done anything good for me?” To which our Little Fish looked up at his uncle and said: “He sees to it that I’m alive.” The conversation was then over.
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”-Luke 18:16.
And as we gather on this day, we embrace the following hope. Pretty soon, everything that isn’t right today will be alright with the world.
Let me close with words from the Book of Isaiah: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.”
 Canfield, Jack, Mark Victor Hanson, Patty Aubrey, and Nancy Mitchell. Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul. Deerfield Beach, FL. Health Communications Inc. , 1997, Book, pg.220.
 Canfield, Jack, Mark Victor Hanson, Patty Aubrey, and Nancy Mitchell. Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul.pg.220.
 Matthew 14:31
 Matthew 18:3
 Luke 1:15,41.
 Leithart, Peter. “Infant Faith”. First Things. 15.Oct.2015. Web. Aug.1.2016.
 Leithart, Peter. “Infant Baptism.” First Things. 06. Aug.2004. Web. Aug.1.2016.
 Ephesians 2:8-9.
 Galatians 3:27.
 Leithart, Peter. “Do Baptists Talk To Their Babies?” Biblical Horizons. Sept.1996. Web. Aug. 1.2016.
 Leithart, Peter. “Do Baptists Talk To Their Babies?””
 Leithart, Peter. “Do Baptists Talk To Their Babies?”
 Newton, Emily. “Capon and Cupcakes”. MBIRD (Mockingbird Ministries). 07. June.2016. Web. Aug.1.2016. Newton is quoting Robert Capon.
 John 19:30.
 Leithart, Peter. “Infant Baptism.”
 Isaiah 11:6.