1Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. 3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church, he shares what he has come to know as the truth. I don’t know about you, but lately I have been frustrated that “truth” has become such a divisive word in our society. Be it politics, vaccines, Baker Mayfield’s football skills or the health benefits of kale, truth is not as simple to define as I once thought.
Instead of focusing on where the other is wrong, I believe what we are called to do is proclaim what we believe to be right – the truth. That is what Paul does here.
Here are some truths. I ran across a “fascinating list” that carried this intriguing title: “Great Truths About Life That Little Children Have Learned.” Let me share a few of these “great truths” with you.
Never ask your 3-year-old brother to hold a tomato… or an egg.
You can’t trust dogs to watch your food for you.
Don’t sneeze when somebody is cutting your hair.
School lunches stick to the wall.
You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
On a more serious note – let me share some more truths today.
Truth # 1 - You are a sinner. So am I.
We have been tempted to turn from God, and go on our own. It is likely to happen again.
Maybe even later today.
We sin. We stumble. We do things that grieve God and hurt others and even ourselves by the things we do and the things we leave undone.
Truth # 2 - There are going to be valleys between the mountain tops.
Sometimes the valleys seem to go on forever. The valleys can be dark, lonely and deep.
Truth # 3 - Death is REAL
I recall several years ago being at the home of a parishioner whose wife had just passed away after a battle with cancer. There at the house, the widower was being consoled by his parents. His father said to him, “You knew this day was coming. When you said ‘til death do us part.’ That day has come.”
We can deny it, avoid it, not talk about it, pretend it doesn’t happen. But it does. No matter how we try, it will happen. Remember you are dust. To dust you shall return.
Truth #4 - You cannot save yourself.
You cannot stay on the mountaintop forever. You cannot avoid death.
You cannot. You are no more than dust, and to dust you shall return.
Ah, but when we reach that point, the reality that I cannot. Then we can accept the gifts of God, the promises of God, the hope and life and forgiveness of God.
God can! God shares this good news in many ways, including a sign, the sacraments and our Savior.
At the font when you were baptized, the sign on your brow was made (it may be invisible but it is still there). You were and ARE marked with cross of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit forever! You belong to God.
The sacraments are God’s forgiveness in tangible form. They are Gifts of Grace, so that we might remember God’s promises, and be fed and nourished and strengthened to make it through the valleys.
Jesus Christ, our Savior is the one who comes to take our sin upon himself so that we might be forgiven, and with him, live as heirs of God. As he is raised to new life, the promise of new life is ours as well.
Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful. Slow to anger and abiding in steadfast love!
Let us pray: O God, you give us the truth that will set us free. May we be truthful in our confessions and faithful in our serving. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen