Holy Trinity Sunday (1st Sunday after Pentecost)
May 31, 2015
“An Undelivered Message”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon is the Gospel lesson read previously from Matthew 28 – the “Great Commission” of our Lord Jesus.
My dear friends,
For a good many years, Joseph Brucato has had a job. He was a postman, so that meant his job was to deliver mail “in sleet or in snow” (neither of which we get here – thanks be to God). It was a job Brucato did with gusto … most of the time. Well…some of the time. Maybe. I say, some of the time because Joseph Brucato was busted last fall when his boss noticed some undelivered mail in Brucato’s personal vehicle – a 2004 Mitsubishi Galant. Police were called and it was discovered Brucato had more than 40,000 pieces of undelivered mail in his apartment, car, and office locker. Indeed, it took postal agents more than five hours to confiscate more than 2,500 pounds of mail – a literal TON of mail – which had been secreted in Brucato’s apartment. When questioned by authorities, Brucato admitted that since 2005 he had, for various “personal reasons,” declined to deliver everybody’s mail: priority, first class, and regular mail that was supposed to be delivered to homes and businesses on Brucato’s route. Eventually his lawyer admitted that Brucato suffered from depression and it was his resultant mood state that caused him to stop caring about delivering the mail. As you can imagine, the Postal Service suspended Brucato without pay. The US Postal Service said it did not know when the mail would finally be delivered to the addressees.
Now…let’s think about that for a minute. Currently, as a renter, I get other people’s junk mail almost every day in addition to our own junk mail. But, some of the stuff we get in the mail is important! Thinking upon those mountains of mail that Joseph Brucato had stashed in his car, locker, and home, I tried to imagine the important messages Brucato never conveyed: the expressions of love which someone needed…the comforting words of sympathy for which a hurting heart longed…the congratulations on a promotion or acceptance into a college…the powerful words of encouragement which might have made a great difference in an individual’s life. Sure, the post office plans to deliver those tardy letters, but that may not help the folks whose moment of need has long since come and gone. For these people, the undelivered message is a tragedy. We know what it’s like to receive that one piece of mail that makes a difference or brightens our day. Joseph Brucato took that away from many people for as many as 9 years. Think you know where I’m going with this?
Of course, that is true for undelivered spiritual messages too. In today’s Gospel, Jesus commands his church to deliver a spiritual message – “go and make disciples.” In the Greek text, “go” is a passive participle; it could better be translated “while you are in the process of going.” Hear the difference? Wherever the places that life takes you day in and day out, it is there that you will encounter people who have not been baptized and who have not been taught about Christ. Not all mission work is across the ocean and done in a jungle; much is down across the street! Christ has commissioned us – His church – and calls upon you and I to go and make disciples of all nations (imperative form; command), starting with our own little corner of the world sharing His message…and what a message it is!
The Lord Jesus, who gave Himself to win forgiveness and salvation for this sinful world, asked US to deliver that message to those who are lost. The Lord, who would have all people be saved by the truth of the risen Redeemer, has confidence that those of us who have been rescued from the fires of hell will do everything we can to help others be brought to faith in the Savior Jesus who paid for our sins, bested the grave, and rose again to eternal victory. Eternal salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ alone is a message that needs to be delivered to every soul! Sadly, and for personal reasons many Christians, like Joseph Brucato, keep God’s salvation message to themselves and decline to deliver it. I bet Brucato never dwelled on the impact of his actions and what so many people would suffer without their mail. So also, I’m sure too many Christians never stop to think of what will happen when souls die without having heard Jesus has carried their sins and conquered death and grave. I know what you might be thinking. “Delivering the mail is a postman’s job and delivering the Gospel is a pastor’s job. This Great Commission stuff is for someone else and not for me. I’ll just ignore this and wait for the next hymn.” That, my friends, is a bad idea. So is hoarding more than a ton of undelivered mail.
Those bad ideas are almost as bad as “10 cent beer night.” On June 4, 1974 the Cleveland Indians hosted the Texas Rangers at which fans could pay 50₵ for a ticket and 10₵ for a 12 oz. Stroh’s on tap. Sounds like a good idea, right? It wasn’t. Over 25,000 fans showed up – double the normal attendance. Fans shed their clothes and raced around the field naked, many jumped onto the field, and eventually a Rangers player had his hat taken by a drunken fan. Legendary manager Billy Martin, then manager of the Rangers shouted to his players to grab bats and “get them, boys!” The ensuing riot resulted in 9 arrests, countless injuries, all 3 bases were literally stolen, and the Indians had to forfeit the game. But did they learn? Nah. Cleveland brought back “10 cent beer night” a month later which attracted more than 41,000 fans.
Ignoring the clearly obvious is a bad idea. Ignoring the fact that people need their mail delivered is not helpful. Ignoring the Great Commission not a wise thing to do…for the eternal sake and safety of others. Friends…LET US NOT REST until the Ultimate Message – the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – has been delivered into every ear and every heart has been touched by the Holy Spirit’s call to faith.