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Content Not Context

Content Not Context

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Published by Joseph Winston

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Published by: Joseph Winston on Sep 28, 2009
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12/07/2009

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Content Not Context
Jody WinstonJuly 24, 2005
Sermon
Grace and peace are gifts for you from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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While I was growing up, I was blessed by having two great-grandmothers.Great-grandmother Heggen lived in her house in Lubbock, TX and Great-grandmother Simons lived in what we would call today a retirement village inMercedes, TX. During my childhood, I had the ability to visit with both of thesewomen since I was fortunate enough to live in the Panhandle of Texas and in theRio Grande Valley.I have wonderful memories about these visits. Great-grandmother Heggen al-ways had a pot of strong coffee on and at least one homemade coffee cake for hergreat-grandchildren to eat. As I remember it, her TV was always tuned to a soapopera and we could not bother her when her favorite one, “As the World Turns,”was on. Great-grandmother Simons normally had purchased something like fruitor cookies for her great-grandchildren to eat since she did not cook anymore be-cause her eyes hurt her.Occasionally when I would visit my great-grandmothers, I would be given alittle gift. Sometimes this gift might be something that I really wanted like a toycar or money. At other times, the gift was less desirable in my eyes. I mean,what boy would want an afghan that was knit from red, orange, and blue yarn?After this type of visit, my mother would always remind me, “It’s the thought thatcounts.Maybe you also have been told this little phrase when you have beengiven something that you really do not want.
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Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3.
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As my great-grandmothers aged, it became more difficult for me to visit them.Great-grandmother Heggen developed what was then called dementia. Visitingher became work for me since she had to have someone to take care of her atall times. She did not remember me even though she had taken care of me foralmost five years. She no longer could bake for me the cakes and cookies that I soenjoyed. As Great-grandmother Simons became bedridden, she needed more carethan the retirement village could provide so she moved herself to a nursing homein Austin. I did not enjoy visiting her there since the building smelled bad to meand she always seemed to be in pain. After these difficult visits, my mother wouldtell me, “It’s the thought that counts.Perhaps you too have heard this maximafter doing something that you really did not want to do.For the longest time, I did not understand what this phrase meant because Iconfused context with content. It really does not matter where any gift is givenbecause gifts can be given in all sorts of circumstances. In good health, my great-grandmothers gave me love. While they were sick, my presence gave them somemeasure of comfort. A gift’s content is literally the gift’s message. The signifi-cance of my great-grandmothers’ gifts is their love for me. When I visited them,in sickness and in health, my visit was also a gift of love. In other words, a gift’scontext is not as important as a gift’s content.In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus gives us five different ways to look at theKingdom of Heaven, otherwise known as the Kingdom of God:1. a mustard seed that grows to a shrub,2. leaven that causes dough to rise,3. a treasure that is accidentally found,4. a pearl that is deliberately found,5. and a dragnet that takes in everything.For each of these examples on the Kingdom of Heaven, a list of circumstances orcontext could be provided. We might say, as many have said in the past, that theKingdom of Heaven:1. provides a place for us to rest,2. is growing out of our sight,3. is hidden from our view,2
 
4. is worth everything that we have,5. or that both good and bad currently exist in today’s Church.While interesting, this information on Heaven’s environment is secondary to themore important question: What does the Kingdom of Heaven really mean?However, before we can answer this question, we must first be clear aboutour current situation. We all have missed the mark in our relationship with God.Every one of us has come short in our dealings with those around us. We all havegone past God’s limits. These actions hurt ourselves and others. We all deserveGod’s justice, which is our death.Given this understanding of ourselves, we can now answer the question of content. What is the Kingdom of Heaven? It is not as simple as some peoplemight think. The message is not that we are bad and that the Kingdom somehowmakes the evil in our lives go away. If this was all that occurs in the Kingdomof Heaven, why then did the author of Matthew devote all of this time to explainthe Kingdom of Heaven? By my count, Matthew brings this subject up thirty onetimes.
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Also, why then are there the repeated questions asking if you understandthe teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of Heaven?
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Even if we could answer thesequestions using the simple but incorrect answer that we become good, then whydid Jesus come to the earth to live, to suffer, and to die?The radical answer to this question of what is the Kingdom of Heaven is thatin our present condition Christ has transformed us and He has transformed all of our relationships. That is why Christ came to the earth.Before God’s plan to save us, we were as good as dead. We could not keepthe Law as God intended us to do nor could we take care of others as Jesus toldus to do. Into our miserable world, into each of our broken communities, intoevery believer’s sinful life Christ came and gave us a new covenant in His blood.
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Because of God’s work, we have been given life as God intended and we are nowGod’s children.
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God has adopted us into the family.The result of this message is our conversion from dead into life. It is ourresurrection in Christ as God’s holy Children. This is the final Word on our lives
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Matthew 3:2; 4:16; 5:3, 10, 19, 20; 7:21; 8:11, 10:7; 11:11, 12; 13:11, 24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47,52; 16:19, 18:1, 3, 4, 22; 19:12, 14, 23; 20:1, 22:2, 23:13, 25:1.
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Matthew 13:51; 15:10.
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I Corinthians 11:25; II Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 12:24; 13:20.
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The Large Catechism
,
The Lord’s Prayer 
,
The Second Petition
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