December 2018   
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Hebrews 9: 11-14 “Fool’s Gold” 11/4/ 2018

Rev. Jerry W. Krueger

Boardman United Methodist Church

Gold! I Found Gold. There’s Gold in this river, in this mine, in them thar hills.” Gold fever swept America in 1848 when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California, and began the 6 year California Gold Rush.

People came from America and the world in search of their fortune risking their lives in overland or sea going travel. Even though hundreds died enroute to the Gold fields, most believed the risk was worth it... 300,000 people mined about 750,000 pounds of gold valued at $8 billion today.

For the rookie miner, the business selling clothing, supplies, & food, made more money than the typical miner.   Swindlers sold worthless mining claims to unsuspecting miners. Merchants sold unnecessary clothing and supplies that were often poor quality. Assayers, those who verified the purity of gold, were often liars, cheats, thieves, who would assure the miner that their find was merely Fools’ Gold. Then offer them a ridiculously low price for the true gold. Gold pyrite, appeared to be gold, but in actuality was an inferior mineral that mimics the look of gold. Pyrite looked good, but was actually of little value.

Yet fool’s gold can indicate nearby gold.

In today’s reading we encounter convoluted, almost confusing language about a high priest, blood of calves and goats to be sacrificed, redemption, a heifer, sanctification, eternity, purification, and sacrifice.

The Book of Hebrews was likely written to a Hebrew Jewish Christian community, by a fellow Hebrew Cristian. Probably not the Apostle Paul. writer addresses continuing persecution these Hebrew Christians experienced, and recounts the old covenant driven by continued blood sacrifices of animals, no longer applies. WHY? Because of the atoning, complete sacrifice of Christ. Shedding his blood on behalf of each of us, eliminates need for sacrifice in the old way.

In our modern culture, just as in Jesus day, there are those believing we must engage in rituals or practices above and beyond what Jesus has done for us, or called us to do.

The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22: 37-37), “is to Love God and to love neighbor.” Then Jesus also says, “Acknowledge who I am, the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, and confess your shortcomings, admit your sins, and repent”.

Acknowledge, confess and repent.

And that is what Christ requires of us. We are to be baptized once, and to partake in the gift of Holy Communion on a regular basis. Acknowledge, confess, repent. Our faith is not about keeping dietary laws, avoiding eating shellfish, pork, animals with cloven hooves, or bugs with eight legs.

Our faith is not about fasting until we are gaunt. Our faith is not about showing off to others about how “spiritual” we are. What Christ wants from us, is to turn our lives over to Him. To give of ourselves, to accept him, confess our sins, and to repent, change the way we live.

The author of Hebrews tells the Hebrews following Jesus, faith is not just about following ritual, not about how many prayers are spoken, not about how many candles are lit, not about earning our way to heaven.

Jesus is not the God of the fool’s gold. He is not some false deity, he is the real gold, the true Savior, the Son of God, the son of man, the gift of the Father’s unwavering, unfailing grace.

The grace we receive in following Jesus is a gift, undeserved, in that we are guilty of sin, and Jesus washes the sin away, offering his sacrifice, his death and then resurrection, so that, we might reside with him. And because he speaks for us on our behalf, we are rightfully, through Jesus, a part of the eternal heaven and part of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Jesus is not some future happening. Jesus Christ is here and now. Available for the one who does not know Him, and for the one who does know him, to recommit their lives to serve God and neighbor daily.

And that takes loving the one who disagrees with us politically, and might like to engage in debate at Thanksgiving dinner. It takes vigilance to see that our financial resources are from God, and that a portion of those resources return to God. It is challenging at times to accept that Jesus has done all we need, so that we might be saved. There is no complex gyration. There is not memorized mantra we need to recite. There is not a neighborhood full of front doors on which we need to knock.

Our task is to accept the Christ, acknowledge is he both Lord and Savior, and confess that he provides our salvation.

There is not a preacher, pastor, priest, politician, principal, parent, mom, dad, child, business, or relationship which will save us. Only Jesus Christ does that.

We can’t earn our way to heaven by being good enough. There is not one of us here that is good enough, or holy enough, to earn our salvation. As flawed human descendants of Adam and Eve who broke covenant with God in the Garden of Eden, they sinned, and we need to be saved.

God provided a long line of servants to lead his people to Him. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses. All failed. Judges were appointed and they failed. Kings were appointed over the people, even the good kings had shortcoming. Prophets were sent to instruct God’s people, but the people were stiff necked, recalcitrant, reluctant, stubborn and willful humans.

There ensues a hiatus of God’s voice for hundreds of years, until the Messiah comes. And Jesus is the perfect sacrifice. His spilled blood on the cross, his death and resurrection for the people who would follow him, was, and is enough.

No more needs to be done for us to be saved, our dead works, our attempts at living rightly without the Christ, are washed away. What kind of Savior and Lord would willingly die for any of you here? And knowing who I am, why would Jesus look at me and say, “I give my life for you, Jerry, so that you will not suffer. Give me your sin and pain, and take my yoke upon yourself, for it is easy and light. Let me carry the load for you my child, let me offer myself on your behalf, so that you may have eternal assured life in paradise with me.”

People of God, Jesus the Christ offers us a gift, an opportunity for our lives to be made whole, for our lives to be washed clean, for our relationship to be one with the Savior of the world.

Today, on this day, if you have not professed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I invite all of you to close your eyes, and bow your heads and to take these words into you heart of hearts.

“Lord Jesus, Savior, Master, and one who redeems me, saves me; hear me. I commit my life to you for the first time, or I recommit my life to Christ. Lord, take my sins from me, and wash me white as snow. Your death and resurrection, your gift of new life for me was offered through your sacrifice, and for that I am grateful, eternally grateful. I choose you as my Lord and Savior, I repent of my sinful way ways, and I ask that you walk with me all the days of my life. Forgive me Lord Jesus, restore me, continue to love me, and save me, so that I may serve you here on earth, and reside with you in eternity when my time on earth ends. In the saving name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen. ‘

Today we receive Holy Communion, in conjunction with this being our All Saints celebration. After you receive the bread and wine, you are invited to light a votive candle in honor/or memory of a loved one, then return to your seat.