April 30, 2017 – 3rd Sunday of Easter
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read 1 Peter 1:13 – 25
May the Grace and Peace of Easter grow in your life, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Last week we started reading through the first letter of the Apostle Peter to the Christians of his time who were dealing with a world that didn’t accept their faith in the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of our faith in the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ we to are one of the Elect of God and we have been given a hope that is not found in this world, but it is a gift from God that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, given to us through the Holy Spirit working in our lives. That’s the Hope of Easter that we live in today, just as people throughout the history of mankind have had the opportunity to come to the knowledge of the hope of Easter, as the Apostle Peter talked about in his letter last week.
The Apostle Peter goes on in his letter to tell us, ‘Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”’ (1 Pe. 1:13 – 16)
As God’s children, we are holy because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has made us holy and encourages us to prepare our minds for the actions that will come, as we live in the hope of Easter every moment of our day. Thus, the importance of letting the Holy Spirit work in our lives through God’s Word each and every day and remembering our baptism and taking part in Holy Communion for the strengthening of your faith and hope in Easter. All of this is an important element of our lives as we prepare for Jesus’ coming again on that last day.
Now being a child of a Holy God is not easy, but God is full of grace and mercy for us and wants to love us now and be with us always. So, with the help of the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word we are given the ability to strive to conform our lives to the ways of God and not to the passions of our former sinful self. As we live in the Hope of Easter we call upon God for help to live the new life we are reborn to and the Apostle Peter tells us, “And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your so journey,  knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,  but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake,  who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
The fear of God is something that many people in this world have misunderstood, because they have inherited the ignorance of their forefathers and not the hope that comes from Easter. Martin Luther explaining this fear of God by saying this, “Since you have such a Father, who judges not according to the person, conduct your manner of life, as long as you sojourn here, in fear; that is, exercise fear toward your Father, not because of pain and punishment, as un-Christians and the devil fear, but that He forsakes you not and withdraws His hand not from you. As a pious child fear lest you provoke your father and do something that may not be pleasing to Him. It is just such a fear that God wishes us to have, in order to keep ourselves from sin and serve our neighbor while we live here upon this earth.” Let me give you an example of this kind of fear from my own life.
This situation happened in my live when I was about 10 years old. You see I was supposed to have had a little league baseball game on that day but it had been raining on and off most of the afternoon. I knew that the game was probably going to be canceled because of the rain but if the rain stopped I could still have the game, so even though it was raining I got upon my bike and headed to the ball field, which was about a mile away. Now to get to the ball field I had to cross the parking lot of the shopping center only a few blocks from my house, cross a busy street and then ride several more blocks to the ball field. I had done this often, but this time it was raining and even though I had my rain poncho on, when I got to the shopping center it started raining even harder so that I had to put my head down instead of looking ahead, so that the rain wouldn’t hit me in the face. That’s why I didn’t see the car as I was peddling fast and making a turn around a lane of parked cars. I’m also sure that why the car didn’t see me either because the rain was coming down so hard at that time, but it was good that he wasn’t traveling very fast either or I could have been seriously hurt. As it was I was thrown off my bike and scratched my hand and knee a little. No blood, just another broken bike. The man in the car got out to see if I was OK and helped me to the canopy at the entrance to the supermarket and out of the rain to check me over. After showing him that I was OK, he asked if he could take me home. I said that I could make it home OK by myself and told him thanks and said I’m sorry for running into your car. He asked to take me home again and I said that I would rather sit here for a little while till the rain stopped and then walk home. He handed me his business card and offered to take me home again. I refused again and stood next to the wall of the supermarket as he walked back to his car and drove off. As I sat there I looked at his card and notice that he was a judge for the Boulder Country Courts. Oh, great I thought, I not only wrecked by bike again but I ran in to a judge. Now my parents are really going to be angry with me and I wished that I didn’t have to go home and explain everything to my father. About an hour or so later the rain took a break and I walked my bike back home. When I got home my mom saw me from the kitchen window as I walked my bike up the driveway. She asked what happen to my bike as I came into the garage and I explained to her what had happened and gave her the business card from the judge. She checked me over and spayed some antibacterial stuff on my scrapes and said, “When Dad gets home you are going to have to explain everything to him. Now that was my biggest fear! That night as my Dad came home at his usual time, around 5:30 and I met him in the garage and showed him my bike and explained what happened. We moved from the garage to the living room and he sat in his big chair as I stood before him. As usual my Dad gave me a good lecture, which meant he did most of the talking and I did most of the listening. At the end of the conversation I was told that I was going to be doing a lot more walking for the rest of the summer till I could earn enough money to buy a new bike and my Dad was going to be talking to the judge to see if I had to pay for any damages to his car. My father’s love for me is great but at the same time he knew that I needed to learn a lesson in common sense and not to do foolish things that would bring me into harm’s way. Now that’s reverent fear of your father.
God’s love for each of us is greater than any father’s love for his children and He has given us a faith and hope that is founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter morning. That great love for us should give us a reverent fear of Him that hopefully will cause us to think before following our old sinful passions and instead listen to His wisdom found in His Word. Oh, there will be times when we will have to learn a lesson or two about being a Child of God and what is expected of us, but even when life gets rough God is there for us.
The Apostle Peter reminds us of this as he writes, “Having purified your souls by the obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,  since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;  for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,  but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Pe. 1:22 – 25)
Martin Luther talking about these words of the Apostle Paul by says this, “We all, as Christians, have acquired a brotherhood in baptism, of which no saint possesses more than you or me. For at a costly price your salvation was purchased, at the same costly price my salvation was also purchased. God has devoted as much to you or me as He has for the greatest saint, except that they may have laid a hold of the treasures given better and may have a stronger faith than us. God’s love for us is greater than any brotherhood extends, because it even goes to our enemies, and especially to those who are not worthy of love. For as faith performs its work where it sees nothing so also should love see nothing. Because through God’s love for us we have been begotten into a new life in this world so that we can strive to let the love of God work through our lives to share Gods love with others.”
Sharing the brotherhood of love that we have with God, that’s the work that God is doing in our lives because of Easter. As we grow in our understanding of God’s love for us in Easter we need to fear Him and share that knowledge and love with others. As a child of God, we are given a short time to journey in this world with the quest to share the love of God given to us with others so that they too may know the love of God and come to be nourished in all that He has given to us. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! With that as our hope let us go out into the world and share the Good News with others so that they too may live in the hope of Easter with us. Amen.