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Saturday - 4:30 pm Sunday - 8:00 am & 10:30 am Christian Education Sunday - 9:15 am


Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.
And behold, I am with you always,
to the end of the age.
   Matthew 28:19a, 20b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Rob Rogers was born in Seattle Washington. He has a B.A. in Communication from Concordia University, Austin, TX and a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. READ MORE >>

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September 22, 2019
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St. Matthew Apostle and Evangelist- September 22, 2019
Text:            Ezekiel 2:8-3:11
Theme:         I’ll have a Heaping Helping of God’s Word Please!

 

       Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Matthew.  We all know the story.  Matthew was a tax collector who Jesus called to follow him.  He left the tax booth and a very profitable life to follow Jesus who had no house, no money and a particularly gruesome retirement plan.  That being said, let’s turn our attention to the prophet Ezekiel, the Old Testament text for this feast of St. Matthew.

      It is important to know that the prophets were often called not only to proclaim God’s word but to physically be human object lessons for God.  The prophet Hosea is a classic example of this. In order to show the people how God feels when we seek after the things of this world instead of him, he makes his prophet Hosea go marry a temple prostitute and have illegitimate children.  Then God makes him forgive her and take her back to show how even when we have done our worst to him, he still forgives us.  The prophet shows us by live example that when we put anything, anything at all in our lives before God, we are being unfaithful to him in our relationship with him.

      Today we see Ezekiel being commanded to eat a scroll.  Scrolls were made of papyrus which is basically crushed up and dried reeds, so I’m pretty sure they were not tasty.  Imagine crushing up celery, pressing it flat and letting it dry in the sun for a while.  It would be barely edible and certainly not a yummy treat.  Yet, Ezekiel tells us,

      “Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.”  That’s how the word of God is when you eat it.  I’m not suggesting some kind of fake Christian garbage here.  I know what people think when they hear these words from Ezekiel.  They think of Sally the nice Christian woman in her white blouse, pink sweater, big hair and big Bible talking about all the ways the Lord has blessed her and how wonderful her life is.  One of those types caused Danya to defend Satan when I was at Seminary.  Danya had to work so that we could eat and have a place to live while I was in school so she couldn’t attend Sally the Happy Christian’s Bible Study, held in the middle of the afternoon during the week.  Apparently, according to Sally, all good Christian women are available for Bible study mid-day during the week.  When Danya explained that she worked during the day, she was told that she was allowing Satan to interfere with her studying the Word.  I heard Danya on the phone say, “Don’t blame Satan.  He’s got nothing to do with it!” I asked her if she had taken to defending Satan on a regular basis and she said she thought she might have if the choice were between Satan and Sally.  It is people like Sally that drive people away from the Word of God. 

      Ezekiel is not talking about fake sweetness and light.  God made that scroll sweet and delicious to make this point.  Consumption of the Word of God makes life in the real world bearable.  Ezekiel has a difficult task in front of him and he has many hard things to speak to the people of God, so by consuming the Word of God, he will find the strength he needs to do what he has to do.

      Likewise, Matthew had a nice cushy life until the walking, talking, living, breathing Word of God, Jesus Christ himself, walked up to him and said, “follow me.”  St. Matthew followed and that is why we honor him today.  We know that he had free will just like all human beings do.  He could have said, “No Lord, I’m doing great.  Go peddle your Gospel somewhere else.”  He could have refused to follow just as you and I could refuse to follow at any moment that we so desire.  Rejection is the one power we have over God.  God will drag no one into Heaven kicking and screaming.  But today you may come to this altar and you will have the Word of God placed in your mouth.  You will have the body and blood of the living Word of God placed in your mouth and it will be sweeter than honey, not because the wine and the wafer are so exquisite.  Rather, because you will be enabled, empowered, emboldened to leave this altar and follow him.  And while the journey is no picnic, it is fulfilling.  It has meaning.  And like Ezekiel, like Matthew we know that while the journey can be challenging, we also know where it ends and he will continue giving us whatever we need to follow.

      Oh that life in this world were always sweeter than honey.  It is not.  You have aches and pains as your body fails you.  You have children who have issues of their own.  You have relationships that challenge you to love your neighbor as yourself and you have temptations that look as pleasing to the eye as they are harmful to your soul.  Life in this world is always an uphill battle and if it is easy for you, I’m betting that you are on the wrong path.  But life in this world is only the journey, not the destination.  God’s Word is sweet because he is constantly reminding us where we are going and forgiving us for where we have been and therein we have the strength to keep following him.  Pay attention to his command to Ezekiel.  He did not offer the scroll and say, “Oh, Ezekiel, might I offer you a bite?”  He did not say, “Ezekiel, it would be really good for you to eat this scroll.”  He said, “But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”  God says something similar to us, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me….This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Having dined on the Word of God, we will still face a rebellious world that seldom listens to God.  Like the prophets, we will be ignored and mocked and maybe even killed.  But we will be wearing the armor of God and we will be filled with his Holy Spirit and if we die, we die in His service for we have received the crown of glory that never fades away. The feast is ready.  Come to the feast.