This Week's Message


BLESSINGS AND WOES


Unless you live in frozen Antarctica or the steamy tropics along the Equator, there are usually four seasons during each year to contend with.  There is the cold of Winter and the dormant agriculture.  There is the Spring when warming temperatures coax plantings to sprout and grow. The Summer brings hot weather and growing crops and time for vacation.  Autumn brings the growing season to a halt with the falling leaves and the abundant harvest.  We thank the Lord for His goodness.  Colder temperatures calls some creatures to hibernate and others of us to bundle up.Christians likewise contend with the seasons of life, both good and bad times.  Faith in Christ does notguarantee free and easy living.  Sometimes it seems the wicked prosper more than lowly believers in Christ.  What matters is that Christians weather the changing seasons and storms of life, and remain faithful. 

 

There was a movie entitled “A Man for All Seasons” that won an Academy Award in 1966.  It portrayed the life of Sir Thomas More, councilor to King Henry VIII of England in the sixteenth century.  Sir Thomas remained faithful to the church’s teachings concerning holy matrimony, a life-long commitment of a man and his wife.  King Henry, wanting a male heir to his throne, decided his marriage to Catherine should be annulled, for lack of a male heir, and that he should be allowed to marry Anne of Boleyn instead.  Sir Thomas resisted the King’s insistence and it cost Thomas his head, his reward for faithfulness.  He thus became a man for all seasons for his calm resolution, living by higher principles of love and loyalty, the conscience of God in the midst of dangerous machinations of sinful men.

 

Scripture admonishes us to remain close to the source of life and not forget the Lord’s healing grace.  Psalm 1 advises, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.  The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:1-4). 

 

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote similar words of encouragement.  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). Christians remain close to the source of spiritual nourishment, the Gospel of Christ’s atoning salvation, and the Sacraments of regeneration in Baptism and the Supper of our Lord’s body and blood, given and shed for forgiveness of sins.  With these means of grace, believers weather the seasons, come what may. 

 

Out West are tumbleweeds, plants that tear from their roots, which were shallow to begin with.  Deprived of nourishing water, these tumbleweeds are driven by the winds of chance and change.  These dry, lifeless things are the very opposite of the living plants which Jeremiah describes, those planted by life-giving streams of water.  Regardless the weather, these plants thrive and bear fruit.  So too do believers in Christ thrive and grow and bear the fruits of faith and life which Jesus provides His faithful. 

 

Jesus speaks His Sermon of the Plain (Luke 6:17-26) of the blessedness of beggars, the spiritual poor, who daily repent their sinfulness, who hunger for righteousness, fed by Christ, who weep but will laugh, for Jesus wipes away all tears, who are persecuted but rejoice for Jesus’ sake, being blessed by God.  Only woe attends those who rely on temporal gifts, like wealth or good fortune, but blessings abound for the faithful.  Jesus gives us living water and helps us grow strong roots to sustain us for all seasons.