††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Fragrant Praise"

Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4-14, John 12:1-8

March 21, 2010

by James Greene

 

†††††††††† This Season of Lent we are filled with the emotion of introspection.We are contemplating the journey of Jesus to the cross.We are aware of our own flaws, and it is hard for us to grasp the understanding of receiving Godís greatest gift: his Son.

We experience the joy of that gift through the belief in Christ and our salvation through His redeeming sacrifice.Knowing that, (as the people of God), we are Godís precious possession.It is because of that, God is the One we offer our fragrant praise, and our joyful thanksgiving for His salvation in our lives.

 

In our reading from Isaiah, we see where Israel is reminded that they need to forget the Former Things.They should not remember to live on past glories and history like those illustrated in the parting of the Red Sea.

Here God is telling Israel that he is doing a New Thing; providing water in the desert, and streams in the wasteland.He is blessing His people with his provision and providence.It is because of Godís Great Things, that the people will proclaim and praise God.They will live into the fullness of their intended purpose.

Just as water flows to the sea and the sea never fills up.The sea gives its praise to God in the vapors and fulfills it purpose, and replenishes the earth with rain.

So, the people of Israel, who have been a part of this dessert experience, will praise the Lord, because of the Great Things they have seen and experienced.Their sacrifice of praise will become ďa sweet smelling aroma to the Lord

 

In Psalm 126 we see the praise of Israel in their release from captivity in their laughter and singing.God has done Great Things for them; like the streams of water described in the wasteland of Isaiah.It is a rejoicing and praise of Godís replenishing and great provision for His people.Their sowing in the sorrow of captivity, has yielded a reaping in the rejoicing of Godís redemption and bounty.It is a reflection of the same Hope and anticipation seen in Isaiah.It is a praise that is worthy to the Lord.

 

In Paulís letter to the Philippians, Paul has tried to earn his salvation through the flesh (by listing his Jewish traditions and heritage), through the Law (by listing his status and education), and by his zeal (through his personal righteousness).We see his striving heaven ward in the praise of Great things God has done in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.Jesus has supplied the righteousness through his death and resurrection.It is through our faith in Christ that we are covered by His righteousness.The only thing we must do is to have faith in Christ.It is in that faith, that we achieve salvation and resurrection pointed out by Paul.It is in faith that we praise God for the Grace freely given to us through the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.Our thanksgiving is our fragrant praise to God

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Fragrance makes up a lot of our culture today.We have all kinds of perfumes, and smells that are a part of it.There is Fabreeze to clean the room, and sheets of fabric softener that we put in the dryer to give the material a softness and a fragrance.

I remember once one of our daughters put some dryer sheets in my truck to make it smell better.The only thing it did was effect my sinuses.

 

Aggie, the Longhorn, and the Baylor Bear.Had a bet who could stay in the pig sty the longest.So they all get in the slop with the pigs.After about 5 minutes the Baylor Bear comes out gauging from the smell.After about 10 minutes the Longhorn come stumbling out looking rally green from the smell.Finally, after about 20 minutes not being able to take the smell any longer, - the pigs come running out.

In our reading from John, we see Jesus at Simonís house with Martha, and Mary at supper with Lazarus on the Sabbath before the Passover.This story reveals the boundless gratitude of Maryís heart for the restoration of her brother.She is anointing Jesusí feet with a very expensive flask of pure Nard without consideration of the cost.It reminds us of the love of the father for the lost son, because she reflects the extravagance in her use of the perfume.In Godís economy there is no waste in love.It reminds us of the preaching of Calvin.ďIn daring to give all that you have, you dare to live all that you are

This is Maryís way of praising Jesus.She has made a fragrant praise in worship of the Lord.Sometimes, words do not express the essence of our heart.It can only be done in action.It is love given in praise and in a response of thanksgiving for the Grace we have received.This is what Mary has done in her actions.It comes from her heart that is filled with gratitude for the life of her brother.

Christ the great giver, in this event, has become a great receiver of her praise.His words reflect his gracious response: ďShe has done a beautiful thing

 

It is the wonder of Christís gift of salvation reflected by Paul: that yields a response from us.Those who love Christ Ė love him so much Ė that we are willing, like Mary, to give forth the best that we have for Him.We like the father of the prodigal son bring the best we have, to the table, because of our gratitude for what Christ has done for us.It is a fragrant praise that we bring to the Lord.It is standing in the presence of The One who has restored life to your brother.It is our gift of praise and worship that is worthy of the gift we have received.

 

Finally, We see how, God, as the redeemer: calls, rescues and restores us through His Son to redemption.It is the salvation of creation where all may be restored.We know that Christ is the redeemer who gives us ďa crown of beauty instead of ashes, and the oil of gladness instead of mourningĒ.This understanding of Godís faithfulness is our reason to sing joyfully and give our fragrant praise in hope of bringing the fruits of the harvest with us.It is in hope that we can praise Godís redemption: like Mary,and do it allÖ.

†††††††††† In the Name of Ö††† the Father,†† the Son,†† and the Holy Spirit.Amen

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