Time for a New Recipe

Time for a New Recipe

Matthew 3:1-12

She was not an indifferent cook, not a timid one either when it came to complex recipes.  She had tried many times, always to please her husband whom she knew liked spaghetti at least once a week.

It never quit pleased him.  He couldn’t tell her what it was, but something was not like he had when he parked under his parents’ table.  She consulted his mother, meticulously followed her methods and procedures.  Never quite hit it, however.  She was not going to be defeated; she was that kind of person.

Then it happened.  She was distracted near the end of making the “perfect” sauce.  The telephone rang.  A  friend.  She momentarily lost track of time as she listened to the news from her friend’s trip.  The sauce?  Well, it burned, slightly, but make no mistake it was burned.

The husband was pleased.  It was exactly as his mother made.  She had discovered the secret of making good spaghetti sauce! Burnt!  Almost ruined!  It was time for a new recipe for that husband, as he learned what his mother had been doing all those years.

The voice calling to us today is calling for us to use a new recipe for our life.  The old will not do.  The comfortable ways to acting, living, thinking will no longer be acceptable.

It is rather an uncomfortable call as we come to the celebration of  Jesus’ birth.  We have our traditions, we have our ways of doing things-comfortable, pleasing to us, and just perhaps a little on the “burnt” side of things.

The voice needs to be listened to.  It is the voice promised that would come before the Lord would put in his appearance.  It makes us uncomfortable, challenging, upsetting that we, yes, you and I should repent so that we would be ready for the Lord’s appearing.

Well, of what should we repent?  Don’t we do that Sunday after Sunday–telling God and each other what we have erred in thought, word, and deed?  Can’t we be comfortable after that?

Didn’t the people that John the Baptizer was talking to, do that as well?  You know, going to the temple, offering “sin” sacrifices, getting assurances that all that they have done wrong in life, in thinking, in speaking, in action is wiped away?  Then why should they, should we be called to some kind of special different recipe of repentance just as we are about to welcome this big celebration called Christmas?

A clue about the new recipe needed comes from John when he tells those religious leaders whom he sees as dangerous vipers that they cannot say: “We have Abraham as our father.”

Have we believed that the old burnt recipe of saying: “We were born in a Christian home.  We were baptized.  We attended confirmation classes and were confirmed.  We went to youth group.  We attend worship regularly.  We give “lots.”

Is that what God really wants?

All the ingredients of the recipe for pleasing God taste worse than burnt to him.  They stink.  A new beginning.  A re-baptism is needed.  The old must be washed away as we come to the time to celebrate that God’s love for us was so great, that he sent his one and only Son into our world to give us a new recipe for pleasing him.

That recipe is simple.  It is to know, to believe and to trust, to live on the basis of knowing that God loves me, accepts me, is present with us because of Jesus-his life lived because we don’t live righteous lives, his death to pay for all our evil, sins, failures to live to our God-given potential, and then his unbelievable resurrection which give us a life with him and which is never ever going to come to an end.  Wow!

It’s time to prepare the way for the Lord, to make straight paths for him in our lives.  That is the new recipe for our lives.

How many of us still have family problems?  We don’t get along with some member, who somehow believes that they were loved by parents or favored by them more than we.

How many of us are not jealous of others?  We believe they have more than we do for no other reason than that they somehow are favored more than we are by God.  Isn’t that the old Cain recipe when looking at all who are the family of God?

Don’t some of us buy to impress others?  Give as good or better presents that we receive?  How many of us spend too much at this time of year?  Does that recipe tell us that we are still trying to follow the ancient recipe of the lie that we can somehow buy love, perhaps even God’s love?

How many of us still are fearful of the times, of our health, or our investments or jobs?  How much anxiety still consumes our energies?  How much do we still despise others-immigrants, Muslims, people who are homeless, or whom we put in the category of not wanting to have contact with “those kinds”?

What is our purpose in life?  What recipe do we follow?  Perhaps John’s call for a new recipe of life still needs to be regarded as up-to-date, a “for us” recipe for the coming of our Lord to our hearts and lives.

This Jesus knows what recipe we have been following.  He cannot be deceived.  He separated the wheat from the worthless trash of our lives.  He knows whether we are producing fruit which shows we trust God more than we trust ourselves.

Shepherds heard, saw, went on their way rejoicing and telling of the wonderful things they had seen and heard.  That sounds like a winning recipe to me.  I really don’t think it can be surpassed.  And it creates joy and peace in the hearts of others.

What have you seen?  What do you hasten to see?  What do you rejoice to hear Sunday after Sunday?  What gives your life the lift it needs to survive in these last days before He comes?

It may just be time for a new recipe for our life.

This message from Rev. Walter Harms is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas.  For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected].  A Pass it On Project ,  You can read more  at Goettinger Predigten