Friday, January 3, 2014


Christmas Two Year A 2013

Fr. Dale Matson

Generally, when we use the term “Salvation” we are talking about our eternal destiny. “Are you saved?” Meaning, have you turned your life over to Jesus Christ. Will you go to Heaven when you die? In this sense then, the word Salvation refers to eternally saved, eternal life.

As I reviewed our readings for Sunday, there was a general theme that emerged. Beginning with the Collect. "...grant that we may share the divine life of Him who humbled Himself to share our humanity.God is the one Who saves, restores, redeems, shelters, shields, equips and bequeaths. It occurred that all of these ideas could still be grouped under a single word, salvation. The word “Salvation” comes from the Greek word “sodzo”, meaning to protect, preserve, heal, deliver, and become whole or to keep safe.

Not only are there several meanings for the word salvation, there is the idea of past, present and future salvation. We were saved, we are being saved and we will be fully saved. The word "sodzo" is primarily used in the "present" tense, to describe our being presently preserved, kept safe from harm, and delivered from fears, doubts, and the power and domination of sin in our life.

Let’s go back to the angel speaking to Joseph in Matthew’s Gospel used for the fourth Sunday in Advent. “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (1:20b-21) Have you ever puzzled over this statement? “…You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” The name Jesus is an Anglicanized name for the Hebrew and Aramaic name “Yeshua”. Yeshua means Savior.

Do you ever think how radical an idea this was? We read in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus healed a man by pronouncing forgiveness. “And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Unfortunately they didn’t choose the correct answer, “B”. Christ forgave sins because He was in fact God.

So, it is our Savior Jesus who protects, preserves, heals, delivers, helps us to become whole and keeps us safe. If only…if only we went beyond reading this to inwardly digesting it. If only…if only we went from agreeing with it in principle to truly believing it in our hearts.

God’s salvation plan reminds me of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Those who don’t sign up for a health plan pay an annual penalty. For those who reject God’s plan, there is a penalty also. The Affordable Care Act has four plan options. They are the bronze, silver, gold and platinum plans. As you go up in levels, there is a higher monthly fee but a lower deductible. All plans must offer essential health benefits. God’s salvation plan only has a platinum level. God’s plan has a one-time fee but the deductible is very high. It will cost you your life. You will have to give up living your life for yourself and start living your life for Christ. If only…. if only we would inwardly digest the Good News of God’s Salvation Plan. If only we could be like Mary in today’s Gospel lesson and keep these things hidden in our hearts for safekeeping.

The problem is that we are often carried away by the tsunami waves of the cares of this world. If you are fortunate enough to own your home, there is always the monthly mortgage and things that need to be repaired or replaced. If God has blessed your marriage with children, you worry about their health, who they chose for friends, and what planet they now seem to live on. With grandchildren you worry that the parents will find the level of discipline that will curb their craziness without breaking their sprit. I said to Sharon recently that I was already feeling the pain of one grandson, knowing that he will be the target of bullies.

My older sister never married and lives alone. She will be 80 years old in April. I was unable to reach her for three days and worried that there was a problem. As it turned out, she had put her phone on mute accidentally so the phone didn’t ring. She said to me, “I was wondering why no one was calling me.” Have you ever gone from worry to anger under circumstances like that?  Like many elderly folks she is both suspicious and gullible. She forwards emails to me that contain viruses warning against viruses.

But Jesus tells us to be anxious for nothing. He tells us not to be anxious. When He was with Mary and Martha, Martha asked Jesus to tell her sister Mary to help with the chores. Martha, Jesus said, was "careful and troubled about many things." Martha was worried, distracted, hurried and disturbed in her mind. Jesus's solution was not to get Martha more help, but to remind Martha that she, too, needed to put first things first. The priority here was not serving the Lord, but sitting at the Lord's feet in order to be instructed by him. Aren’t we mostly Marthas? If only I could be more like Mary and just sit at His feet.
In a recent study reported in Reuters Health, that men and women with severe symptoms of anxiety may have a higher risk of stroke than relaxed folks.
“The greater your anxiety level, the higher your risks of having a stroke," "Assessment and treatment of anxiety has the potential to not only improve overall quality of life, but may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, later in life," Dr. Philip Muskin, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York emphasized that the stroke risk identified in the study among overly anxious individuals was not vastly increased. "What the study is really saying is, you're a little more likely to have a stroke," said Muskin, who was not involved in the study. Still, he added, "I would like to be a little less likely (to have a stroke) in my life."

Now, doesn’t that make you anxious folks less anxious? In fact, it makes you more anxious because you didn’t know before that you could get a stroke because you were anxious. This proves the point that there is no news that’s good news…. unless we are talking about the Gospel…. the Good News of Jesus Christ. In Him we were saved, are being saved and will be saved. Amen

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