Sermon – October 8th, 2023 – Thanksgiving Weekend
Hope Lutheran Church – Port Coquitlam, BC
Text: Matthew 21, Philippians 3
Theme: “Thaumatized by our Cornerstone”
Intr – (SLIDE 1a)When you look around in the world you live in, which of the two words would you pick to describe much of what you see in terms of human behaviours and relationships: (Slide 1b) trauma or marvel?
I think I know the answer. We see so many bad things around us every day that it seems we are living under the empire of trauma, fear, and loss. This seems to be a widely traumatized world.
The word trauma evokes different things, and this is not about dealing with emotional trauma in a secular, human sense. The reason is that we can’t measure or compare traumas and their personal impact on each person’s life. What for you may be just another problem in life can be something that affects me profoundly. What for me is something that can be overcome quickly, for you may be something leaving permanents marks you need to live with. Besides that, the origin of the use of the word trauma is for physical ailments, so not only emotional traumas are involved. When I think of a traumatized world, I’m pointing to the deep, profound, and most wicked trauma that causes every other we may have in life. Sin. Sin is the breaking of God’s law which causes us to be separated from Him. Sin runs deep in our flesh and leads us to traumatize others and be traumatized. To suffer and to inflict suffering. In some cases, even to kill and to die.
Now, when we look to the Gospel for today, we see trauma. But we see marvel as well.
1 – Traumatized
Jesus tells a parable where people are willing to kill to satisfy their desire. They were so blind that they even reasoned: “if we kill the son, we inherited the property”. This is not true according to any succession Law of the time, but sin blinded them so much that they didn’t care about reason. The parable was about the religious leaders and the way they understood and taught God’s Word. And they knew it. They knew Jesus was aiming at them. But again, they were so blinded that they could not see the marvel and wonder before them; only the trauma that Jesus was causing to their longtime established religious system they had.
This may happen to us as well. We get so blinded by something we like or desire; or by something we hate or despise, that we create all the wrong reasons and rationales to justify what we want to do. We also want to kill the son so that he won’t get in the way of the things we desire to do. (SLIDE 3) We break God’s Law, and we end up apart from Him.
Sin leads to spiritual trauma, problems, and losses. Look to Paul, for example, who wrote Philippians. He is somebody who knows what a traumatic life is. He was: Beaten, persecuted, stoned; Arrested for the crime of his faith; Away from everyone he knew; Alone. Paul was as human as all of us, and maybe you can relate to some of these. Maybe this is one of the ways you feel right now. Because sin has spiritually traumatized all of us. By nature, we all reject the cornerstone and we all would be made to pieces by it into eternal condemnation. That is a very strong image. Talk about trauma and its consequences when they are eternal!
In a world of trauma, we need Marvel. We need the wonder of God’s action: We need the Cornerstone.
2 – Thaumatized
Here I bring another word, from the Gospel. Where in the Gospel it says “marvelous”, the Greek word is “Thaumaste”. (SLIDE 5a)Thauma is the Greek word here for “Marvel”. In the Bible, marvel refers to God’s action, God’s doing. What God does is (SLIDE 5b)“Thaumaste”, marvelous, wonderful. Then I would go on in a play of words to say that if something is “Thaumaste”, and leaves us marveled, we would add some English to it and say: The cornerstone, Jesus and his work makes us to be (SLIDE 5c)“Thaumatized”. We are marveled when by faith we realize God’ action, God’s doing in our lives. It is something completely out of the ordinary. Marvel, wonder can refer to many things in the secular world but in the Word, it has a definitive meaning and source: God and His action. Thaumaste. When God is acting, there is nothing less than that. We are Thaumatized, marveled at his acting.
The situation here is very interesting for the same Cornerstone, Jesus, (SLIDE 6) can be both a source of Trauma or Thauma. It cand build or can crush. It can put a life together or break it into pieces. Law and Gospel. When Jesus himself says that. To those religious leaders who didn’t want to acknowledge Him as the Messiah, to everyone who is not connected to Him by faith, the cornerstone represents trauma. To those who are connected to him by faith it is the cornerstone of foundation and Thauma. Wonder, marvel. Love. Peace.
Our original trauma receives healing in the Thauma of (SLIDE 7) God’s doing. This comes from the Lord, it is His own doing. It “comes from the Lord”. Or as Psalm 118 says, “This is the Lord’s doing”. This doing from the Lord is so perfect that is leaves us marveled. Thaumatized. I know, in daily life There is so much trauma, brokenness around us that many times we lose sight of that wonder, of that Thauma. Then we might be tempted to look try to figure our way out of it. We rely less on him and more on us. We think we got it together, we know the path, we can plan, we can deliver. God is the copilot right beside us that if and when we need Him, we will call upon.
If you have problems and insecurities. If your traumas are small or big, if your life is good or so, so. Stop relying on yourself. There are professionals in the mental health area that can help us in many things. But when it comes to healing in your spiritual life there is only one Cornerstone. Christ. Remember: It is the Lord’s doing. It is not your power, it is His. Through the faith you have in Jesus your Saviour you see the Lord’s doing in our life. You see that He is the pilot and guide. (SLIDE 8)Living our faith doesn’t make us to be instantly free from marks and consequences of traumatizing difficulties we may have. But our eyes are focused on the Thaumatizing (marvelous) Grace and Mercy of God which carry us through on our darkest hours and most difficult moments. He has got our traumas, sorrows, and brokenness in His hands, and calls us to his Thaumatizing Word and Sacraments remembering us of His Care and Love”.
Paul amidst his traumatized life is dwelling in the thaumatizing power of God’s Word and Christ’s death and resurrection. (SLIDE 9)He says: “That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death(Trauma)…that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.(Thauma)”
3 – Thankfully sharing
Now, what do you do when you are marveled at something? First, we are thankful for that amazing thing, right? And second, I think that most of us cannot hold it inside, but we need to share. We want to tell it at least one person. Or you may post on Facebook, like I did when I met a black bear this week a few blocks from the Church. I was marveled at something I had never seen before so close to me and I could not hold it just to myself. I shared it with more people.
When we are left thaumatized, marveled by buy our Cornerstone, when Jesus never ceases to amaze us with his care and Love, as we are firmly built on him, (SLIDE 11a and b) first gratitude becomes a river flowing from the bottom of our hearts. We are thankful for all and everything in our life – including a life in which we acknowledge trauma, hurt, pain and loss. But a life in which Hope shines from the Rock, marveling, thaumatizing our lives and enlightening our souls.
And then we don’t hold it inside. We need and we want to share it with the World. (SLIDE 12)We are called to be thankful and to serve. Just as LWML Canada, celebrating their Sunday today, has a long story of being built on the Cornerstone, Christ. It’s been 30 years for sharing the Thauma, marvel of God’s wonders in a world traumatized by sin and death.
(SLIDE 13a and b) Cc – In a world of trauma, loss, and pain, we point to the Hope we have in Christ. We are built on Him to a life where we are marveled and thankful to our cornerstone, Jesus. A life where we go from brokenness to wholeness by the power of God’s action.
Isn’t that Thaumatizingly amazing?