Our August 30 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. Our social spacing seating arrangement assures minimal risk.
The September 6 worship service will be held in our church sanctuary with members and friends in attendance. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
August 30 Sermon
Jeremiah 15:15-21 | Psalm 26:1-8
Romans 12:9-21 | Matthew 16:21-28
Have you ever said something which you shouldn’t have? You know, it might have been something as simple as, “Yes” or “No.” And you then, well, you just know that you are in trouble. Usually, we get in trouble, rather for saying things other than absolutely nothing. It often goes like this: You say something intelligent, or profound, which gets everyone’s attention. Then, instead of doing the intelligent thing, namely, closing your mouth and being silent, you fall into the mistaken concept that you are on a roll, and continue speaking. What follows then proves to everyone present, that the profound thing which you uttered previously was obviously a fluke. And there is a problem with words: you really can’t take them back. Remember the saying (Lincoln or Twain), “It is better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.” Yes, you may apologize, but they are out there still. Indeed, the Jews believe that words have a power or a force all their own. Traditionally, Jews will throw themselves on the ground if they know that a curse is coming so that it will pass over them, or if there is a blessing coming, they stand fully upright to receive the full power of the words. Remember what Jesus said in the lesson a couple of weeks ago? “It is what comes out of our mouths, which defiles us.” You have to be careful what you say.
Well, last week, as you remember, Jesus asked the disciples who the people thought that he was. The answers were; John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Close, but no cigar. Then he asked the disciples directly, “Who to you think that I am?” And St. Peter jumps in and makes his confession, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And guess what, for once Peter is right. At least he understands, and probably the rest do too, they just didn’t want to risk being wrong. However, Jesus did tell Peter and the others that the only way that Peter would have known this was because God the Father had revealed it to him (it isn’t really Peter’s insight). But, having the secret out in the open, Jesus now tells the disciples not to tell anybody, at least not yet, and tells them that basically he is going to go to Jerusalem, be crucified, and then resurrected on the third day (they probably missed that resurrection part the first time that he said it). Now, with the cat out of the bag, he instructs the disciples what this means: suffering. Here is where Peter makes his mistake. God may have revealed to Peter that Jesus is the Messiah, but Peter didn’t necessarily understand what that means, what the Messiah is here to do! And Peter rebukes Jesus for saying this, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” The response is swift. Jesus now rebukes Peter, even equating Peter with Satan. That is quite a rebuke. What has happened? Peter kept talking. He should have stopped with his Confession, revealed by God, a tremendous gift of God’s grace. He should have stopped there, and remembered that usually, he was a bumbling fisherman, not usually a God inspired prophet, at least, not yet. Jesus tries to straighten Peter, and probably the others out: “Yes Peter, you know that I am the Christ, but you don’t know what that entails. Don’t let your preconceived notions of Messiahship get in the way of my mission. God has far bigger plans than you do.”
Jesus then begins to instruct them in discipleship. What does it mean to follow the Christ? It means to bear the cross which we have already been given: to follow Christ in obedience, and like him, to be willing to pour out our lives for the sake of the gospel, just as Christ pours out his life for the sake of the world. It means, ultimately, a life of service to God, by serving Christ, in the midst of the world, and especially in the midst of those who have no faith. Although this may seem a life of self-denial and possibly self-destruction and martyrdom, it is really a life which leads to ultimate vindication and salvation and eternal life.
We don’t get this in the Church calendar today. But if you are reading through in your Bible; Jesus next goes on to an extreme object lesson, and another God given revelation for three of the disciples, and especially Peter. Matthew 17, the next verses, is the story of the Transfiguration, which we get at the end of Epiphany (not during Pentecost). He takes three of disciples, one of which is Peter, up to a high mountain. Since they are in Caesarea Philippi, the mountain is probably Mt. Hermon, the highest one in the area. There, Jesus is definitely revealed to them as the Son of God, by God Himself. And again, as we know the story, Peter again says the wrong thing. But now, at least for the three, who are sworn to secrecy, the cat is definitely out of the bag. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God. And, he has a message to the world, and a job to do for the sake of the world.
Who do you say that Jesus is? That was the question last week in the Gospel lesson. It is question which we carry with us wherever we go. And the answer is one which we should always be wearing on our sleeves. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, then those around us should know that by the way we follow him. Do we live our lives just for ourselves? Or do we live them, in Christ, for the sake of others and the gospel? The answer should be obvious. It can be found in the words of our hymns, for example, “They shall know that we are Christians by our love.” Our faith takes outward expression in the world by our acts to reach out to others in the love of Christ, in the gospel, as the Spirit gives us gifts for those acts, even in this time of “social distancing.” We just need to be more creative about it.
Who is Jesus? He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. He is the One who poured out his life for the many that we might be saved. It is He who rose victorious over sin, death and the devil. And He is the One who empowers us to reach out to all people in the Gospel, to spread his Good News, for the sake of all people. He is the one who sends us out into his vineyard, to help in his harvest, to reconcile all peoples to himself. That’s who he is. Amen.