Bishop's sermon EDK
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus,
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is 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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2,9-11
Dear Sisters and Brothers in our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Today we are taking part in a special service. For the first time in Poland we get a chance to participate in the Lutheran Church Days, which have been organised as part of the 500th Reformation Anniversary celebrations.
The organisers have invited all parishes and all Lutherans in Poland. This is the reason why we meet here today in great numbers.
The Bible verse which has accompanied us for the last three days, is a sentence written by the Apostle Paul to the Philippians:
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus."
Every day, in sermons and Bible studies, we analysed the consecutive verses of that Epistle.
Today, we will look into the future by focusing on the following words:
"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is 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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2,9-11
I believe that this choice of topic was really spot on, because the Reformation pointed out to the meaning of the Saviour and the work he accomplished. Therefore, the principles of the Reformation: Christ alone, Faith alone, Grace alone, Scripture alone point out to the saving work of God exactly.
So let us try to look to the future in the context of this verse.
Let us begin by asking ourselves, whether at the name of Jesus every knee on earth and under the earth really bows?
The answer is obvious: It does not.
There are many people in the world who do not know Jesus and have never heard of him.
Secondly, even if they have heard of Jesus, they do not accept him as God, or they follow other religious, or are simply non-believers, atheists, agnostics.
Thirdly, there are many people who are Christians in theory, but they have never accepted Christ as their Lord. Their Christianity comes down to the traditions of their ancestors or the cultural factor.
So was the Apostle of the Nations wrong?
Or perhaps we should still expect that a day will come when everyone, all creation, as Paul says, will confess that Jesus is Lord?
Neither one, nor the other, of course. When we read this verse, we must be aware that it is an eschatological statement, so it speaks about the end of days, that we all, believers and non-believers will have to stand before the Final Judgment, and there every knee will bow before God, Jesus Christ.
That is why I want to propose a different way of looking at ours today’s sentence, i.e.: tomorrow in the context of Jesus Christ’s reign.
Let us leave those who, in broad sense of the word, deny Jesus.
Let us look at ourselves and at how we can proclaim the Saviour by following him,
because the words: In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, call upon us to follow him.
In order to follow somebody, we need to get to know the person we want to copy first.
We can only do it by trying to look into the Gospels, which describe the life and work of the Teacher of Nazareth.
Who was he? What was he like? What was so special about Him that we should want to follow Him?
In answer to this question, probably everyone of us could name some characteristics which impressed you most.
There is no way to carry out an in-depth analysis of Jesus in one short sermon, so allow me to share with you a few characteristics, realising that that it is just a selective list of His features.
Jesus was full of love - it was the first thought I had about Him -
and actually it is difficult to give just one example. All His actions were oriented at another person. He healed the sick, the blind, the lepers, he noticed the invalid at the pool, “I have no one"
He fed the poor.
He didn’t differentiate between people, no matter who they were; those who came to him were always treated the same
He loved children - and considered them to be as important as adults, Let the little children come to me - for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these
He was very tolerant about human weakness and sinfulness.
They brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.
First, he dealt with those who wanted their morals to shine in comparison with that poor woman.
- Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her
Then - He did not condemn the woman, - "Then neither do I condemn you, go now an leave your life of sin."
As the only person without sin, he could do it - and he doesn’t, He knows, that right now she needs support, acceptance - help, not condemnation.
At the same time, Jesus couldn’t bear - dishonesty, hypocrisy, pride.
He attacked Pharisees, priests and scribes many times.
But for what?
For saying nice words, making others follow their teachings, and breaking these principles in secret themselves. They were not able to follow them themselves.
Jesus would break common rules of behaviours, and in terms of human rights he was a revolutionary
1. Attitude towards women, - he treated them as equal to men, which back then meant that He broke all the rules.
2. He would break all racial prejudices, talk to the gentiles and name Samaritans as an example.
- The story of the good Samaritan, which not only glorifies the Samaritan’s behaviour but also deals with the hypocrisy of the Levite’s, the priest’s rituals, and their understanding of serving God.
- He talks to the woman at the well - not only is she a woman, but also a Samaritan, and he offers her support.
3. He invites himself to a tax-collector - the story of Zachhaeus.
I think that we could give a lot more examples of how Jesus was. It is actually a tasks that will last our whole lifetimes - the get to know Him over and over again.
But after these few examples - do we still want to follow Him?
Following the teacher of Nazareth is much more difficult than it may seem at first glance.
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus
that every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Our task, and also the task of this sermon, is to consider these verses in the context of the future, of tomorrow.
That is why the question if we are ready to follow Jesus is so important.
But are we really ready to follow
or just to declare something with words that won’t be followed by actions.
Following Jesus is connected to consequences and to swimming against the tide.
Often against the views of the majority.
• Are we ready to clearly defend victims and excluded persons in the name of Jesus?
• Following the Master, are we able to take a clear stand in favour of taking in the refugees and economic migrants, who need help?
• Are we ready to defend women’s and children’s rights in the name of Jesus?
• Following Jesus, are we able to support those who are different, who are stigmatised?
And it is not about accepting sin, it is about loving the sinner.
And if someone fails to understand the difference, they should go back to reading the Gospel.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Jesus Christ,
Either will the Church of tomorrow be the Church of the Reformation
- that will be credible in following Jesus, His character and attitude in challenges brought by the modern day,
or it will be an empty Church that will lose its credibility because it compromised on following its Lord, Jesus Christ and was unable to read the signs brought by the present day.