In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
But we are not. You and I only have as much power as God gives. We only have whatever power we can muster by the strength of your arm, your intellect, or your pocket book. Your power can not bend the laws of the universe, bring the dead to life, convert the sinful heart, keep someone alive when their time comes, or even make our children do what we want them to for long. Repent.
Whatever power you think you have is an illusion. But equally false is the idea that evil is winning; that Satan is in control; that death is all powerful. For all our medical advances, for being able to diagnose illnesses so much more accurately, we still can not conquer cancer. It still robs us and mocks us at every turn. Not even the vigour of our youth is left to us these days when human wickedness destroys and ravages our young, disease takes away their vitality and joy, and deprives us of our illusions of being carefree. Those realities make us think death is winning. It is not.
God, the Father Almighty, has the power. But staring in the face of this world it does not seem like He does. It seems like God is asleep at the wheel. The problem is that He gave some of His power to us. We were and are deceived by Satan’s false promises. That deception brought death and powerlessness to us. God had given us life and power. Our first parents gave that away for a false promise and a bite of pretty fruit. And we keep falling for his false promises again and again whether it be accompanied by a bowl of porridge, glass beads, or electronic gizmos.
We have not the power to stop ourselves. We are victims, addicted to our victimhood. In our affliction we victimize others to feel better about ourselves. Our self-made cycle keeps going round and round and round. Repent.
We are hit-and-run victims until God, the all powerful, steps in. He made us. He has the power to free us. He has exercised that power in His Son. But looking around He does not seem so powerful to us. He seems absent. Not because He is, but because He stopped walking among us so that He could save us. His power eradicates evil. His power swallows it up with good. In the beginning He created all things good. Man’s sin brought this less than good world to us. He does not want to simply eradicate all evil (which includes you and me) but to save us. So He hides Himself from our sight in the flesh of Jesus. He is hiddenly at work in the world when you and I live faithfully in the callings He has given us. Our salvation is hidden from the world’s eyes by water and words, bread and wine.
Remember, you can not control God. He is like the wind. You can not see the wind but it is powerful. It carves rock formations. It moves mountains. It lifts up the ocean and dumps it on the land. It tears down buildings in a blast. You can not see it. You can only see what it moves. But can hear it.
Just because you can not see God does not mean He is not there. Nor does it mean that He is not powerful. In fact, you only have eyes to see Him at work if He is already at work in you! He gives you a rebirth, a new life, not a physical rebirth of your body—though that will come in the blink of an eye at the end of time when He returns—but a new heart, a new and everlasting life. You are born from above, from God your Father. Until the last day we are still born of flesh, of our earthly father’s. Flesh gives birth to flesh. Thus, we still struggle and suffer the powerlessness of our fallen state. But in your second birth from above, by water and the Spirit, you have been born of the Spirit. Your sin was washed away, so that the righteous power of God your Father flows in you through His Spirit.
You can not see God doing this. You can only hear it. For His power is not in water sprinkled on babies’ heads, but in His Word which is heard by you and me and the babies who receive that birth of water and His Word. You and I do not see the Spirit rushing upon those Spirit soaked folks, but that does not mean it is not happening!
God is powerful. He wielded that power to bring you and all things into existence. He sent forth His power in His only Son, the Word made Flesh, to conquer your enemies. His unseen Spirit is His power at work in this world even now whenever His Word is proclaimed.
And that Spirit wants you to know one thing: that God the Father loves you in Jesus Christ. For God loved the world in this way: He gave the only begotten Son, in order that every believing one in Him should not be destroyed but should have eternal life.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON