Our February 7 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. All scheduled worship services until further notice will be online only with minimal in-person participation to reduce COVID-19 risks.
The February 14 Sunday worship service will be held without in-person attendance. We will return to in-person worship services starting Ash Wednesday Service at 7:30pm on February 17th. We will still be wearing masks, social distancing and lots of hand sanitizer, but we will be open.
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.
Sermon February 7
Isaiah 40:21-31 | Psalm 147:1-12, 21c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23 | Mark 1:29-39
“If I proclaim the Gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission.”
“An obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” St. Paul says the proclaiming of the Gospel of Christ is an obligation. We don’t usually think of it as an obligation. We usually think of the Gospel as a free gift of grace, which it is. But, and this is the point that Paul is making, having received the Gospel, it is now very much an obligation as well. It is an obligation to proclaim the Gospel. We have received it as a gift, now we are obligated to share it! It is an obligation placed upon all who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a gift. But, it is also a gift which grows as we share it with others. And so, we are all made to be preachers, evangelists (literally “gospelers” or “good newsers”). And, it is entrusted to us. We are commissioned with it, “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.” That is the Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ closing instructions. For each generation, the Gospel must be proclaimed and heard again. We have freely received that gift of life. Now, we are obligated to freely share it. We are commissioned to share it. This is not a “Works Righteousness” scenario. Paul tells us, there is no reward attached to it. This is a “Word Righteousness” scenario. We are commissioned to share and spread the Word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all people. But, usually, we do not. Why?
There are a number of reasons. This year, we can add the influence of the coronavirus. It has definitely affected the Church, and proclamation of the gospel. Now, we have the fear of infection. But I believe that all the various reasons can be placed under the heading of FEAR. And, they have all been produced by society, especially our modern society. And, I do mean present, modern society. The phenomenon does not seem to have been an issue in past generations. We tend not to share our most special gift with others because we are afraid that other people will think that we are religious fanatics, Bible thumpers! Let’s see, in past generations, conversations and discussions, even with complete strangers often centered on religious topics. That is still a large factor on modern social media. There are worse things to be perceived as than being Christian. I think that that perception has grown over depictions on TV and the movies, and worse of all that strange phenomenon of the last few decades of wanting everything to be “politically correct.” Well, I hate to tell you this, but being politically correct usually isn’t. I think that political correctness is just a new way of lying, and hiding the truth behind new very neutral verbiage. And most of all, these things certainly aren’t stopping any of the other religions. The fastest growing religion in this country, and has been for a couple of decades now, is Islam, not Christianity. Most of the mainline Christian denominations have forgotten how to be evangelists, and make disciples, and that fear is a large part of it.
There is another fear, and that has to do with privacy, and it goes both ways. We are afraid that we might be invading someone’s privacy by sharing the Gospel. We believe, at least in this country, that religion is a private concern. That has two problems, it is both wrong, and it is foolish. It is definitely not biblical! In the Scriptures, religion is neither private, nor individual. It is always communal. It is shared by the community. There are no real religions of “One.” It is shared by the Church – that is what makes the Church. Remember Jesus’ words, “Where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” He didn’t say, “One.” There is no, “Me and Jesus” scenario, despite what some people may think. When Jesus uses the word “you” in the Gospels, it is almost always in the plural sense, hardly ever in the singular. What is the first thing which Jesus did as he started his ministry, which we have been reviewing in the Gospels this Season of Epiphany? He called his disciples, gathers them, and creates a community, the “Church.” You don’t have a Church of one! In today’s Gospel, he cures Peter’s mother-in-law, casts out some demons, prays, and the next day says, “Let’s go. We have places to go and people to see.” “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” So it is meant to be shared, even Jesus feels obliged to share the message!
In sharing our faith, telling the story, the Holy Spirit plants the seed of faith in others who may not have heard it, and obviously now, many have not heard, or worse, have misheard. A friend told me that he is anti-religion because of the actions of all of these fundamentalists: Christian, Muslim, and Hindu. He has the wrong message. I told him that they do not really represent their religions. And the Christian fundamentalists tend to have a very poor understanding of the Gospel. They have a great understanding of the Law, but not the Gospel. Indeed, they tend to still live in the Old Testament with its rules, not in the freedom of the grace of the New Testament Gospel. I told him, he isn’t anti-religion, he is anti-fundamentalists, and he needs to think harder on the subject. He is not alone.
The Gospel is quiet and gentle, and usually slow working, taking years to grow in a person. It is working with the Spirit and the Church that that seed comes to fruition. An olive tree is sometimes called a “Love Tree.” Why? An olive tree does not come to fruition, bear its first olives, until it is 40 years old. They are usually planted by one generation for the benefit of a following generation. A person of faith is the same. It may well take decades to come to fruition. Our job is to plant the seed, not reap the harvest. We receive faith as we hear it in the Word. We receive the promises in Holy Baptism. We are received in the Church of Christ. We are fed and nourished at Christ’s table. In Confirmation, we proclaim before the Body of Christ that this is what we believe. We receive an obligation to tell the story, a commission to proclaim the gospel, and woe to us if we don’t. That devalues the gift. Proclaiming the gift of God’s grace shows our appreciation. As St. Paul says today, “What then is my reward? Just this; that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge.” Go and do likewise. The Gospel of Christ, and the sharing of it, and in it, is our reward, and our obligation in faith.