I'm so happy to tell you all today that our oldest daughter and her family are able to join us today.
However earlier in the week we were beginning to wonder.
Due to several days of computer problems with their airline,
their flight from Kansas City ended up taking them to Austin TX,
Then on to Fort Lauderdale FL, and Atlanta GA,
before finally arriving in New Orleans 36 hours after they left home.
It was a horrible feeling to not be in control of their itinerary,
especially since it had been a while since we saw them.
We were anxious to see them all,
and had made plans for every day they would be with us.
But, if there's anything this experience shows us, it's that we are not in control.
Most people are not comfortable not being in control.
Whether it's hydroplaning on a wet highway while driving or sliding on ice,
it's a helpless and scary feeling
when your car is still moving and you're no longer able to steer it.
Or maybe when you jumped off the high board the very first time it was scary
because you didn't know how it would feel
how long it would take
or what the experience would be like
or how long it would take to surface in the deep water
Perhaps you've had your identity stolen or your home broken into?
We want to be “in the drivers seat” in most aspects of our life.
This is because we have faith in ourselves to take ourselves in the right direction,
especially if we have been let down by others in the past,
or had other, traumatic, experiences that we strive to avoid repeating.
Sometimes, even though we might sense we aren't in control, we pretend otherwise or even avoid the facts to preserve our naivete.
We create a protective hedge or bubble around ourselves to filter out information to the contrary.
We get real good at pretending like we have our act together
when, in reality, our lives are a mess in one way or another.
Because, from a human standpoint, to not be in control is weakness.
to have the upper hand is strength.
To have more knowledge is power.
to show restraint exhibits discipline.
to speak up is to be independent.
Yet as we look at ourselves and our lives, we find very little that is under our control.
We can take care of our bodies, but we can't keep them from aging and death.
We can suppress our desires, but we will eventually sin.
We can care for our loved ones, but we can't keep them safe.
We can teach our children about Jesus, but we can't make them keep the faith.
As we hear our texts today we see very clearly that humanity is not all powerful and not in control and must accept God as the one in control.
From Job's desperate situation to the disciples frightening trip across the lake, to the early churches callousness towards grace,
each generation must come to terms with its mortality by understanding its powerlessness.
Just as we seem to be unable to control our own minds and bodies in the quest for righteousness,
neither can we assure the final disposition of our body and soul,
much less fully manage our days between today and our last day.
Instead, God makes clear in these scriptures that he is in control.
he determines our physical care and wellbeing.
He numbers our days.
And only he can provide the redemption by which we are saved.
And job, the disciple, and the Corinthians, all find found themselves lacking faith in God's control over their lives.
Just like each of us react differently to uncertainty, each of our texts tackle different situations.
Job had been stripped of everything but his life and in chapter 31 complains at length to God.
The disciples, faced with physical and immediate peril,
blamed Jesus for sleeping on the job,
thus allowing them to get into the mess in which they found themselves.
And Paul finds the Corinthians living as though they didn't really believe in forgiveness,
as they continued living their sinful lives after confession and absolution,
and making a mockery of the grace given them.
Upon each group the law comes down hard from the one who is truly in Control.
God remind's Job of this
by asking Job to affirm his knowledge of God as the creator of all
and master over all he has made, including job.
Jesus not only preserves his disciples,
but rebukes the natural forces he created which caused their terror.
And lets them know there is nothing he can’t do for them, simply by their asking.
And Paul puts the Corinthians to shame
for rejecting their redemption by Jesus
by their thoughtless response to his gracious gift of forgiveness.
In each and every case the call to the sinner is the same:
remember who you are,
remember who you belong to,
and follow where you are being led.
And by heeding the call one hears the sweet gospel in reply.
As we remember who we are we remember that we are baptized children of God.
Who, regardless of our state of being, or the size of our frailties,
are still loved by God for the sake of Jesus,
who, in that baptism, washes us clean of all our sin,
and by his resurrection, assures us of our eternal relationship with Jesus and eventual home in heaven.
And when we remember that baptism, we remember that we belong to another.
Marked by the sign of the cross we were liberated from the slavery of sin.
And became willing servants to the gospel,
which is not a burden at all,
but rather is a blessing to know we serve a benevolent, loving, and righteous God.
All of which move us to follow him joyfully in service to him and to his creation,
as we give God all the glory,
and as we become his agents for all that is good and beautiful in this world.
So what does this mean for the Christian? It depends on our relationship with God.
If we love and trust our Lord, it is a gospel of peace, and a blessed assurance.
That, because God is in control, we are safe and sound,
and nothing we do can errantly or even intentionally negate the salvation won for us by Jesus.
We are confident and at ease, looking forward to the journey, even if it is a challenge.
If we don't trust the Lord and don’t believe,
Then we are declaring that we are responsible for our own good fortune and eventual salvation,
And when we do, then we will see his control as an impedance to our will and our ways.
And will despise his laws and that which they are intended to control.
And we will become doubtful, scared, wrecked by guilt and shame, and we will, eventually, avoid him more and more, as the Corinthians were doing.
And therefore those whose faith is weak, and their relationship with Jesus shallow,
the estrangement grows into unbelief,.
And unbelief leads to death.
And, once again, we lose control.
but for those whose faith is strong, like Job’s,
the dawn follows the darkness.
Despair turns to delight.
And hopelessness becomes hope
as we turn over control of all our life to the one who gave it to us in the first place.
And so, the purpose of the church, then, is to grow and multiply faith.
Because it is by faith that we can convert our human need to be in control over to God,
and because his control will never fail us or leave us lacking,
we can be safe from all eternal harm, pain, and sorrow.
And we will never have to worry about the consequences of sin which is death.
Because faith is the only remedy for that final insidious foe, death.
So, let us be about multiplying faith, so that we and all God's people might know he is in control.
Not only in control over our temporal lives and situations,
but also that, by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection
he not only defeated death for us,
but has assured us of a resurrection like his
into an eternity spent with him.
And because he made it happen and promised it to be true we know it shall be so.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.