New Yearâ€™s Eve
Messiah Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
December 31, 2010
[I usually do the Eve of the Name of Jesus for this service, but I was drawn to this text. Â -Peperkorn]
TITLE: â€œNo Separationâ€
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for tonight is from the Epistle just read from Romans chapter eight. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
It is appropriate that we take a little time and sit back to evaluate the year. Psalm 90 actually does a pretty good job of that for us, as we prayed it earlier. No matter how each day goes, or week, or month or year, we are one step closer to the grave. We may die soon, or it may be years from now, but either way, the death rate for human beings remains constant at 100%. Everybody, everybody dies.
But whatâ€™s more, as Psalm 90 reminds us, this 100% death rate is nobodyâ€™s fault but our own. Oh sure, our sinful nature is inherited, but that does not make us any less responsible for our own actions. So when it comes to evaluations, it is very easy for us as Christians to become pretty negative. If we measure our behavior according to the Law, we will never measure up. Thatâ€™s what the Law does. It shows us our sin.
What I want you to do tonight is to do a different kind of evaluating and measuring tonight. I want you to sit back and measure Godâ€™s mercy to you this past year. Look back at all of the challenges and heartaches you faced this last year. What was the toughest road you walked? What was the thing that happened to you, or that you did, that you did not think you would get out of? Debt? Job loss? Family problems? Health loss? Iâ€™m sure there are some of you here tonight who are of the mind that 2010 canâ€™t get behind you fast enough. But I want you to reflect on this for a minute.
Paul gets us into the groove of this in Romans. He starts us by asking the simple question, â€œIf God be for us, who can be against us?â€ If God didnâ€™t spare His own Son, but gave Him over to death for us, that does put things in perspective, doesnâ€™t it? So not only does Paul tell us that God gave over His Son for us, but this means that no one can accuse you of anything, ever. Oh we still sin, thatâ€™s not the point. But the point is, with God on your side, every day is a new beginning. No one can charge you. No one else can keep score or evaluate you and see how much you have failed. If God doesnâ€™t hold your sins against you, who else really matters?
Now Paul fully recognizes that challenges we face here in this life. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, the sword, just to name a few. Our life is one of slowly dying, so it should not surprise us that these things keep coming up. But you can look at these things as but one more nail in your coffin, or you can look at them as one more evidence that God is always present with you. Which perspective do you think is going to be better, and more true for the Christian?
That is why Paul concludes with those great words. They are worth repeating here,
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Satan canâ€™t harm you. Nothing today can hurt you. Death canâ€™t defeat you. There is nothing, nothing in all of creation that can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Howâ€™s that for perspective? 2010 was another year of dying. But more importantly, 2010 was another year of Godâ€™s grace and mercy shown to sinners like you and I. He gives Himself to you wholly, completely, and without fail. He will always care for you. No matter what may happen. So bring it on, 2011, we have God Himself on our side. What can man do to you? In the name of Jesus. Amen.
 Lutheran Service Book Historic (One Year) Lectionary. 2009. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.