Based on: Romans 10:18-11:6
Grace. You will hear that word often in this sermon so let’s first make it clear what grace is. The definition we use in catechism class is God’s undeserved love for sinners. If we think about grace in human terms, we could call it grace when you make a mistake at work that costs the company thousands of dollars, but your boss still gives you a raise. You didn’t deserve it, did you? Here is another example. If there is one person you hate most in this world or someone you always treat like dirt, grace is when that person saves your life by donating a kidney or by pushing you out of the way of an oncoming car. Grace is a love you don’t deserve and the result of grace is getting something good when you deserve just the opposite.
Based on: Romans 9:1-5
A few years ago I had the privilege of meeting a brave little girl who had leukemia. She was only 8 years old and yet, the amount of pain and suffering that she had endured in her short life was more than many adults that I know. I am sure that many times her father wished that he could endure the pain for her. If God would let him he would have gladly taken that burden off of his daughter and placed it on himself.
Based on: Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
What if your boss handed you your paycheck and it had a little bow on it with a card attached and the card said, "Please accept this generous gift I am giving you. Signed, your boss." Would you be a little upset? Would you want to talk to your boss and make sure that he didn’t start thinking too highly about himself because of how generous he thought he was? You might want to explain to him that this check wasn’t a gift but it was what he owed you for the work you did. Or what if someone gave you a gift, but then said, "Now I want you to cut the grass and shovel the sidewalks around my house for a year in exchange for this gift." You might quickly give the gift back to him, because a gift that needs to be earned is not really a gift.
Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we look at and read that one short verse our eyes and ears tend to focus on that phrase in the very center of the verse, "peace with God." As we approach Christmas that little word peace brings to mind what the angel said to the shepherds, "and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
I have only been here in Sleepy Eye five months, and I didn’t know him all that well, but from all the things that I heard about him, I would guess that he enjoyed Christmas. I would guess that he was a man who enjoyed peace.
We all agree that mission work is important. After all, without mission work how would our church grow? This is true for the Christian church in the world wherever it is found, as well as the Wisconsin Synod, and also for us at St. John’s in Sleepy Eye. God has decided that he would grow his church through the spoken Word. Paul makes that eloquently clear in Romans,
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15)