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Christ the Cornerstone

I am going to share 6 different scenarios with you this morning. They are 6 different people, involved in 6 different situations. But every single one of them have a common thread. They all have this in common. A real problem, a real dangerous situation. They all have a real tangible approach to face the problem. And they all have an ongoing peace (not a solution) but an ongoing peace that comes from a foundation of faith in Christ - the Cornerstone.

The first scenario is described in our reading from Acts. Peter and John had been arrested and thrown into jail for teaching about the resurrection. Annas the High Priest was there, and Caiaphas, and other very dangerous and powerful people. This was a real problem and a real dangerous situation. Listen again to their real and tangible approach to face the problem.

Because of their faith, they were able to respond in such a way, that even though their future was unknown, their safety was at risk - they had peace. There was no real solution but instead an ongoing peace that comes from a foundation of faith in Christ - the Cornerstone.

Here’s scenario number two. Today is Reformation Sunday, and so 501 years ago marks the beginning of the Reformation movement that transformed God’s Church. I know that some of you are familiar with this history, and others my not be so familiar. It is a complex and facinating history, and I encourage you to read more, talk with myself or others if you would like to learn more about it. For the sake of our time today, I would like to summarize this history very briefly.

The Church seemed to have hidden the way of salvation. Because of greed, and even sinful neglect, it was commonly taught that a person must earn, even buy, their way to heaven. Something called indulgences were being sold, which essentially allowed a person to receive forgiveness for past sins, for a price. His fellow leaders, even the leader of the church of the day, the Pope, was deeply involved in this terrible mistake. To stand against this, meant to stand against authority. This was a real problem, and a real dangerous situation.

But because God allowed Luther to first know forgiveness for himself, through the Word, he took a very tangible approach to the problem. He would publicly proclaim these mistakes, and he would urge people to discover the Word of God themselves. Of course his life would be at risk, his life would be forever changed.

Because of his faith, he was able to respond in such a way, that even though his future was unknown, his safety was at risk - he had peace. There was no real solution, not in his lifetime, but instead an ongoing peace that comes from a foundation of faith in Christ - the Cornerstone.

Scenario number three is not from history. It is present, ongoing and even personal. I want you to listen closely as I speak of a scenario that is ongoing in Chris’ life.

Chris has an anxiety disorder. He has worked very hard to manage this disorder, while continuing his education and preparing for pastoral ministry. We have seen and received God’s blessings through him, as he has served among us. However, trying to manage his anxiety disorder has been very difficult. What Chris faces is serious, and it is dangerous. Sometimes it might be “easier” for us to see danger in those enemies that can be easily seen, like those already described this morning. It is difficult to face an unseen problem, especially when he appears perfectly healthy, even more than that, fit, strong, capable and gifted.

He is facing a very silent struggle, and he could have continued to suffer silently, like so many others do. He could have put his head down and pressed on. In doing so, he would have hurt himself, his marriage, family, and God’s Church.

But instead, he is taking a very direct and tangible approach to this problem. He is withdrawing from his plans for the Specific Ministry Pastor program. He is no longer going to serve in a pastoral role here at Calvary, and instead persue a vocation that would provide easier management of his anxiety disorder.

Because of his faith, he was able to respond in such a way, that even though his future, their future is a bit unknown, even his safety at risk - he would have peace. There may be no real immediate solution, not in his lifetime, but instead an ongoing peace that comes from a foundation of faith in Christ - the Cornerstone.

Before I share the 4th scenario, allow me to share some statistics that may interest you. 1 out of 5 individuals in the U.S have experienced mental illness within the last year. 1 out of 25 individuals in the U.S. will experience an ongoing mental illness for the remainder of their lives. 18% of people in the U.S. suffer from an ongoing anxiety disorder. I know that a great majority of those who suffer, do so silently, even alone. Chris and Grace, and I pray that this example - shows that you are not alone, and that a direct, tangible, even courageous approach may not be easy, but would most certainly provide, help, better management of the situation, and peace.

Scenario number four is you. I cannot explain the details of this scenario like you can, but you are very well aware of the common thread. There is a real problem, a real dangerous situation that you are facing. Here is one more statistic that will interest you. 1 out of 1 people in the world suffer from sin. This is the real problem and the dangerous situation that we are all facing. It will show itself in countless different ways, and we will do our best to hide it in countless different ways. Maybe it is showing itself in your life in physical, emotional, mental, relational or financial sickness.

But now, this morning, you have started to take a very direct and tangible approach to this problem. You have stood before God and confessed this problem of sin, and you have heard His proclamation of forgiveness. I hope that you will continue to take a very tangible and direct approach - not only with silent confession, and a general word of forgiveness - but also ongoing direct and tangible conversations and actions of confession and forgiveness with those you love, and that love you. And with those that you can help, and that God has put in place to help you.

Because of your faith, you are able to respond in such a way, that even though your future is a bit unknown, even your safety at risk - you would have peace. There may be no real immediate solution, not in your lifetime, but instead an ongoing peace that comes from a foundation of faith in Christ - your Cornerstone.

Scenario number 5 is seen in Jesus. This is His life lived for you. The real problem, the real dangerous situation is our sin. So Jesus took a very direct and tangible approach to the problem. He would go to the cross to suffer and die, in our place. That is exactly what He has done for you. He would not give us an immediate solution, He is is not taking all our challenges and difficulties away, but instead we would have peace - Peace with God our heavenly Father, eternal peace and rest in His presence because of Christ - the Cornerstone.

One final scenario. Today we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. 90 years ago, last week, a group of people gathered for the initial construction of this building. Over the last 90 years, there have been countless real problems and real dangerous situations faced by the people of this congregation. I can tell you that those same people sometimes hid from those problems, or avoided those fears. But at other times they did exactly what we read about and celebrate today. They sought to take a very direct and tangible approach to the problem. There are too many examples to name, so I will focus on one. For nearly 90 years, the people of God have gathered in this place - they have confessed the problem and danger of their sin, they have then heard of the very direct and tangible solution found in Jesus Christ and Him alone. The problems, challenges, and difficulties have not suddenly disappeared, but a peace has come. A peace with God our heavenly Father, a celebration of eternal peace and rest in His presence because of Christ. We not only celebrate the anniversary of the cornerstone of our building, but also the Cornerstone of our faith. Jesus Christ - Our Cornerstone.

-Jake

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