Worship for Sunday, October 3. 2021

Genesis 2:18-24

18The Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.”
24Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 8

1O Lord our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!—
2you whose glory is chanted above the heavens out of the mouths of infants and children;
you have set up a fortress against your enemies, to silence the foe and avenger.
3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
4what are mere mortals that you should be mindful of them,
human beings that you should care for them? 
5Yet you have made them little less than divine;
with glory and honor you crown them.
6You have made them rule over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet:
7all flocks and cattle,
even the wild beasts of the field,
8the birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatever passes along the paths of the sea.
9O Lord our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! 

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

1Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

2:5Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. 6But someone has testified somewhere,
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
or mortals, that you care for them?
7You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned them with glory and honor,
8subjecting all things under their feet.”
Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them,9but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12saying,
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark the 10th chapter.

2Some Pharisees came, and to test [Jesus] they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In our Gospel reading for today – Jesus boldly declares to us that we all need to have faith like children if we want to be able to enter the Kingdom of God.

This particular statement from Jesus is almost certainly guaranteed to capture our attention – because who here doesn’t want to enter the Kingdom of God? Who doesn’t want to go to heaven? Who doesn’t want to spend eternity in Paradise with our Lord?

This declaration from Jesus has certainly captured the imagination of more than a few preachers and been the topic of many sermons over the years.

Lots of these sermons begin by carefully and thoughtfully describing children. The children these preachers know are truly amazing – even downright dazzling creatures.   These children are simply delightful.   They actually verge on being angelic.

These children never – ever roll their eyes or make faces at their parents. Or use more than their fair share of the family data plan or hog the Wi-Fi. These children would never express annoyance about the sage advice their moms lovingly offer!

These children eat all of their vegetables with smiles on their faces and gratitude in their hearts.

A mom could dress these children in white clothing with confidence because they would never dream of wrestling with each other or rolling around on the floor like a pack of wild animals!

And the apparent awesomeness of these sweet – angelic – grateful – vegetable eating children doesn’t stop here . . . Oh – no there is more.   These children also have a completely and utterly trusting faith in God.

These children have no doubt – no questions – and absolutely no uncertainty. Just unwavering faith. The faith these children possess is just as unblemished as their spotless white clothes are.

After hearing these sermons – I am always left scratching my head in puzzlement. Because the children these preachers describe are nothing like ANY of the children I know. Seriously – NONE!

Maybe it is a denominational thing . . . Perhaps it is just Lutheran children – who have these sorts of “issues?” Maybe other children are less “intense.”

Maybe Catholic children are more agreeable and compliant.

Could it be that Methodist children are less probing and Baptist children are less inquisitive?

Perhaps – Episcopalian children are less opinionated.

Because – all of the Lutheran children I have ever met are incredibly spunky creatures. They all seem to be born with strong opinions. And they ask hard questions.

Even really young Lutherans have inquiring minds and they all want to know – absolutely – positively EVERYTHING!

Vacation Bible School – is hands down the most terrifying week of my year. The questions our brilliant young Lutherans ask could make even Martin Luther quiver with fear.

Sometimes the questions are fun like – “Did Adam have a bellybutton since he didn’t have a mom?” Or “why did God think mosquitoes were a good idea?” “Or how do you justify the existence of the paid clergy? – yes I really got that question once . . . ”

But other times – the questions take my breath away and leave me speechless.

Like the day 6 year old Jessie asked me– “If Jesus loves me – why did I get brain cancer?”

Or Erica – who was just 12 when her dad died – She wanted to know why God let her dad die when she still needed him so badly.

Questions like these are enough to make a pastor think about early retirement or a career in just about anything else.

Real – children are inquisitive. They are full of questions. Questions pour out of them all of the time. And many of the questions they ask are hard questions.

Questions just like we ask. Because questions and questioning are part of being human.

But far too often we equate faithfulness and belief in God with a lack of questions. We act like a really and truly faithful person isn’t going to have questions or at least a truly faithful person isn’t going to have tough questions for God.

But I assert with great conviction that questions – even really hard questions about God – and faith – and being a Christian in this broken – sinful world are part of having faith.

God doesn’t ask us to leave our questions behind when we become Christians. Nor does God want us to leave our inquisitiveness at the door when we enter the church.

Some of the most faithful people have asked really hard questions.

Think of all of the questions the disciples asked Jesus.   They asked Jesus hard   questions.

They wanted to know why bad things happened to good people.

They wanted to know why Jesus had to die on a Roman cross.

They wanted to know how to pray and about what heaven was going to be like.

They too wanted to know the meaning of life. And they asked hard questions about divorce too.

Or think of Martin Luther. Think of the hard questions he asked and the ways his hard questions changed the world forever.

I think that when Jesus tells us we should have faith like a child – Jesus is encouraging us to ask questions – to be inquisitive – to dig deeper.   To be seekers and questioners and thinkers.

True faith isn’t the absence of hard questions. Faithful people have all sorts of questions.   Even hard questions.

So ask your hard questions – and seek answers.   Read your Bibles. Pray and talk to God. Come to Sunday school and participate in worship. Listen to God’s Word and listen for God’s answers.

And know this – in our Gospel reading for today – Jesus is telling you – you and your questions are welcome here.   Because God loves you and your questions. And truly this is Good News!   Amen.

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