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Friday, December 30, 2011

Sermon 12302011 Funeral Irene Peters Daise

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Heavenly Father as we gather here to celebrate the life of our sister in Christ Irene.  May our hearts be enabled to hear clearly Your Word spoken to our hearts and comfort us as we mourn.  Though the veil of death separates us today from Irene, we are sure of the certain promise You made to us in our baptism that in being baptized into Your death we are certainly raised with You in Your resurrection.  Comfort us with this thought and let the salve of Your Gospel message surround us so we may hear clearly the Gospel message You proclaimed to Irene on the day of her baptism and which You proclaim here today in truth, purity and peace to Your saints, especially the saints of her family all of us gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Growing up in rural Southside Virginia we had one claim to fame for our small town.  It was a festival known as Dixie Days.  This was an annual festival where crafts, food and fellowship were enjoyed.  One of the highlights of Dixie Days was an afternoon exhibition of Square Dancing put on right in front of the motel where the Dixieland Band played.  As you well know Irene and Maurice were constant partners in square dancing and though I may not have seen them personally dance, I know when they heard “Face your neighbor, balance and swing” they were off to the races and would leave me in the dust with my two left feet.

This morning we come to bid the long-time dance partner of Maurice good bye.  As constant companion on this earthly pilgrimage during all the dances, Irene embodied what partnership truly meant.  Constantly by her husband’s side, whether as dance partner, cheerleader for the baseball teams of both husband and sons or card partner playing the Pecks on Friday night, Irene’s dedication to family and church was clear to everyone.  One of my first experiences with Maurice and Irene was a trip to McDonalds and encountering them as was ritual for coffee or a hamburger and being greeted by their friendly faces.

King Solomon, wise ruler and author of Ecclesiastes said it well, “1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”.  Just as in square dancing the caller tells what movements are coming, we have a great promise and purpose from our Lord Jesus Christ of the path we are to take in our lives.  The path that God called Irene to not only included daily partner to Maurice, and never ending supporter of Jerry and Ron and their children, but was especially for Irene as a child of God embraced and redeemed by the blood of the lamb in her baptism into Jesus Christ, life, death and resurrection which forgave her sin and imparted eternal life.

Just as the Psalmist David wrote in the 23rd Psalm, Irene never was in want, because God provided, husband, sons and family that danced with her on her journey of life as accountant at the Co-Op or for Hastings or as clerk at JCPenny.  As Irene journeyed through life, sometimes tinkling the ivories of piano or organ, God “lead her in the paths of righteousness” and “beside the still waters”.  God brought her husband home safe from Europe and from his daily work at the post office.  Yet, for Irene because of God’s continued presence and promise of husband and family she “feared no evil” because of God’s promise made to her in her baptism with Water and Word that “Thou O Lord art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comforted” Irene and us today.

Thus with Paul the prolific writer, Irene has “fought the good fight…finished the course…and kept the faith”.  And now as she rests in her loving Savior’s arms, Irene wears the “crown of righteousness, which the Lord…has given to her”.  For this crown was given to Irene through the promise offered to her and to us by our Lord Jesus Christ in our baptism into His life, death and resurrection.  For Jesus as quoted by John said to Irene and to us today, “ye believe in God, believe also in me”.  Jesus saith unto us, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

This morning we can be assured that God has fulfilled His promise for Irene.  As we celebrate the life of Irene God fulfills the final promise we find in David’s Psalm which says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  In God’s house we will find Irene because of what Jesus Christ has done for her and us in and through our baptism into His life, death and resurrection for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning to say goodbye.  AMEN.
Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of what Jesus Christ did in Irene’s life and ours!  AMEN!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sermon 12252011 Christmas Day

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Lord Jesus Christ, we have celebrated Your Holy birth.  For St. John was inspired to proclaim, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.  In Your birth, the plan of salvation was put into action and we now receive this morning, not only Your precious Body and Blood but now share in eternal life brought to us in a lowly manger for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas morning.  AMEN.

Can you name the song where the following lyrics come from?

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Ascribed as the most popular Christmas hymn due to it being translated into over 125 languages, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” still to this day inspires us.

On Christmas Day 1914, a peace settled over most of the fronts of Europe as men, who not days before were sworn enemies joined together to share the Christmas message.  The following is a fictional story based upon eyewitness accounts, by Aaron Shepard entitled, “A Christmas Truce” of a letter written from a soldier on the Eastern Front to his sister, but gives new meaning to the hymns we sing and take for granted.

Just yesterday morning—Christmas Eve Day—we had our first good freeze. Cold as we were, we welcomed it, because at least the mud froze solid. Everything was tinged white with frost, while a bright sun shone over all. Perfect Christmas weather.

During the day, there was little shelling or rifle fire from either side. And as darkness fell on our Christmas Eve, the shooting stopped entirely. Our first complete silence in months! We hoped it might promise a peaceful holiday, but we didn’t count on it. We’d been told the Germans might attack and try to catch us off guard.

I went to the dugout to rest, and lying on my cot, I must have drifted asleep. All at once my friend John was shaking me awake, saying, “Come and see! See what the Germans are doing!” I grabbed my rifle, stumbled out into the trench, and stuck my head cautiously above the sandbags.

I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”

And so it was. The Germans had placed Christmas trees in front of their trenches, lit by candle or lantern like beacons of good will.

And then we heard their voices raised in song.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht . . . .

This carol may not yet be familiar to us in Britain, but John knew it and translated: “Silent night, holy night.” I’ve never heard one lovelier—or more meaningful, in that quiet, clear night, its dark softened by a first-quarter moon.

When the song finished, the men in our trenches applauded. Yes, British soldiers applauding Germans! Then one of our own men started singing, and we all joined in.

The first Noel, the angel did say . . . .

In truth, we sounded not nearly as good as the Germans, with their fine harmonies. But they responded with enthusiastic applause of their own and then began another.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum . . . .

Then we replied.

O come all ye faithful . . . .

But this time they joined in, singing the same words in Latin.

Adeste fideles . . . .

British and German harmonizing across No Man’s Land!
Our reality we live with and celebrate today like the troops did on the Cold Eastern Front in 1914 is that the Word has become Flesh and dwelt among us!  We have beheld His Glory and this morning as we celebrate in song we also partake of His precious Body and Blood broken and shed for us and for all of mankind.  May we be fed, enriched and energized by God’s gift in the manger and from the altar where we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel on this Christmas morning.  AMEN!

Sermon 12242011 Late Service

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Lord Jesus Christ, this night we celebrate Your birth.  May our celebration of Your entrance into the World make us glad to be in Your presence and know You as our Lord and Savior.  For You are not only known as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, but also as our Savior for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

What is the power of Christ on Christmas?  In 1914, if this question would have been asked, it would have been certain to return a doubtful reply of Christ having power.  For not four months earlier the “War to End All Wars” had begun and the savageness of humanity had been seen and experienced by both sides of the conflict.  Countless men had died on the field of battle and the snow now flying was not manna from heaven, but a bitter reminder of the sting of death that came so close to so many families upon the notification of their loss and the coldness of the season. 

Tonight, Christmas Eve 2011 we are not much different, we have experienced loss in a war on terror that has claimed over 4500 innocent American lives on a field of battle with sand half a world away.  The same question may have a similar reply, Christ having power?

Yet, in 1914, a strange thing happened.  For the commanders who were waging this war, Jesus Christ, born in a lowly manger in Bethlehem reached down from heaven and grasped the lives of the common soldier and entered into their collective hearts.  Though the chaos of war had previously surrounded them and each side hurled insults at each other, Jesus Christ birth united these ‘enemies’ and the soldiers broke from their collective ranks across the theater of command and battle lines and wished each other a “Merry Christmas”.  Soldiers who not hours before were fierce enemies, now shared impromptu Christmas gifts of whisky, wine, cigars, song, merriment and fellowship united not under the same country flag, but under the banner of Jesus Christ.
What is the power of Jesus Christ on Christmas?  I ask this question, not as one who doubts, but as one who believes in the power of Jesus Christ and what He can do.  The power is found in how Jesus Christ came down from heaven and entered in our hearts.  That is the power of Jesus Christ.  May each of you here tonight find, feel and finish your worship tonight with the peace that God gives us through what His Son Jesus Christ has done on the Cross of Calvary.  For the gift Jesus comes and offers to us tonight was not without cost, but was freely offered to us because of His great love for all of mankind and all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas Eve.  AMEN.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sermon 12242011 Early Service

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Lord Jesus Christ, tonight we celebrate the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah who spoke the Words given to him of Your birth.  For Your birth was a divine accomplishment in spite of the deceit of mankind.  May we sinful creatures in need of our Savior welcome the fulfillment of time and tonight celebrate Your entrance, not only into the World wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger, but into our hearts.  For You came to save us from our sin and set us free on the Cross of Calvary for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas Eve night.  AMEN.

Tonight we sing the songs of Christmas that herald the birth of Jesus Christ.  His birth was long foretold from Isaiah’s prophecy and is a divine accomplishment in perfect time.  Here the beloved story we all know so well.

Luke 2:1-20

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

We come tonight with the cares of the world on our shoulders and in our hearts.  There are some of you here tonight who bear these burdens unnecessarily, because you cannot let them go.  Please know it is for you and for all people that Jesus Christ came into this world to bear our burdens that we carry. 
Tonight lying in a manger, because there was no room in the inn, Jesus Christ our Immanuel, knew what we bring as we kneel on bended knee and worship Him.  Jesus Christ clearly says, ‘leave your burdens’, ‘leave your cares’, ‘leave the things causing you trouble’ and welcome Me into your heart and let Me fill you with peace.  For this is the reason for this season, Jesus Christ our Immanuel came down from heaven to enter into our hearts.  It is my personal prayer that each of you as you celebrate and welcome our Immanuel tonight, will enter into a deeper relationship with Him and know Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, Who came down to earth to set all of us free from sin, death and the devil.  For our Immanuel’s coming in Bethlehem in a lowly manger was for all of mankind and especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sermon 12212011 Mid-Week Advent 4

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Lord Jesus Christ, when You stood on the bank of the Jordan, Your life here on earth had been secluded and out of the public eye.  But when the Water connected with the Word spoken by John poured over Your head and You came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and You were revealed with the Father and Holy Spirit.  This was the next step in fulfilling the plan of salvation.  As we conclude our Advent preparation, may we understand that Your coming, not only fulfills one step in God’s plan of salvation, but this is the step of Christ coming in our hearts and changing us as we celebrate this Advent season for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

There is not a day that goes by that Sarah does not amaze Michele or I how she continues growing as a toddler.  Like many of you one of the neatest things as her Father is to watch when Sarah get’s excited.  For example, this week, we bought her a pair of Dora the Explorer shoes and to see Sarah in her own way, shake with excitement when she saw those shoes.  That is priceless.

In today’s final part in our series for our preparation in Advent, when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, Jesus probably didn’t have the same outward excitement that Sarah had with the Dora shoes, but inwardly, Jesus probably felt like a ‘kid that had been given the coolest gift’.  But this wasn’t a gift, it was the realization for all those present of a true and present reality.  Hear again, Mark’s account:

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

In this one moment, Jesus Christ experiences the crowning affirmation that we as humans desire from our earthly parents.  The clear statement from God the Father saying, “in You I am well-pleased”.  But here we are talking of human emotion and desire and this is not any ordinary human, it is God incarnate Who humbled Himself by taking on Human Flesh and no longer is He just Human, Jesus Christ is Human and Divine.

Yet, the greater importance is that in these three verses, the Trinity is revealed to humanity.  When God the Father speaks and says, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased”, and previously the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus in the likeness of a dove, and Jesus Christ is present in Human form.  In this one moment, our Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is not some abject question, but a concrete reality that cannot be refuted.  Thus, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled of the Stem of Jesse bearing fruit and He is standing along side John the Baptist and all who came to the river Jordan to be baptized.

But why is that important for us today?  Why would the opening of the heavens have an importance for we God’s people here in Northwest Kansas?  Well, Paul Kretzmann famous Lutheran Pastor and Scholar reveals the following of the opening of the heavens and its importance:

it was a revelation for His [that is Jesus Christ’s] benefit. He, who had just received baptism unto the remission of sins, not for His own, but for those of the world that were resting upon Him, was shown the open heaven. It was a manifestation to strengthen Him at the beginning of His ministry, in which He must work out the redemption of mankind.
This gift of redemption we are partakers of today through our baptism into Jesus Christ, life, death and resurrection.  We through our washing with Water and Word are forever connected to this event where the heavens are opened and our redemption draws near.  This is why as we prepare during Advent and now come to the conclusion of our Advent series, we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ who “works out the redemption of mankind”.  Jesus Christ works out our being saved and we can be strengthened like Jesus Christ for our life here on the plains of Northwest Kansas as we come to the manger on bended knee.  For our redemption does draw near and we take the final steps to the manger where Jesus Christ comes into this world to save all of us saints from our sins who have gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sermon 12182011 Advent 4

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Heavenly Father, as we hear from our last prophet Isaiah, may Your Words spoken through them, continue to ‘challenge’ and ‘change our hearts’.  For our preparation during this Advent season will not be complete this side of heaven, but in order for us to begin to understand this, Jesus Christ had to come in the manger to set us free.  May the stem of Jesse that sets us free enter our hearts and continue to transform us as we worship Jesus Christ Who came for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

When preparing this series for Advent, I looked forward to Isaiah, the fourth prophet.  Not because, Isaiah is more important than any of the other prophets, but because, the passage Isaiah spoke rings true for our whole series.  In one of my many books that I have consulted in preparing, the Isaiah 11 passage was summarized like this, ‘An ideal age is a human dream, but a divine accomplishment.”  Hear God’s Word through Isaiah the prophet:

1 Then a (A)shoot will spring from the (B)stem of Jesse, And a (C)branch from (D)his roots will bear fruit. 
2 The (E)Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of (F)wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and (G)strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 
3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes (H)see, 
Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;

Isaiah clearly speaks to us today that the one Who is coming will have wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  Each of these characteristics we see clearly in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For Isaiah’s message is not muddy, but clear, Jesus Christ is the branch that bears fruit and is the One that is coming to set things right and take on human bodily form and lives the sinless life for each and every one of us.  And by doing this, our baptism into Jesus Christ, life, death and resurrection sets us free.

Now that ‘ideal age’ formerly thought to be a ‘human dream’, is a ‘divine accomplishment’ through Jesus Christ coming in a manger.  The prophets voices have been fulfilled.  For God spoke through the prophecies of Daniel, Micah, Jeremiah and Isaiah and we have heard clearly how each of these men were instruments of God speaking about the coming of Jesus Christ into this world.  Jesus purpose was clear, to save the World.  Like the summary written, ‘it is a human dream’, but God the divine accomplished this in a little manger where Jesus Christ came into the World for all of mankind and especially for us saints here at Emmanuel today.  AMEN.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sermon 12142011 Mid-Week Advent 3

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Heavenly Father, as we gather this evening to hear the fulfillment of the covenant for us today, may we begin to understand it is Your gift to us.  For the gift of Your Son and our Savior through His precious Body and Blood gives us life and salvation.  In, with, under and through the Bread and Wine that is the Body and Blood of Christ God fulfills the covenant He made with us in our baptism and we are changed by our receipt of Your gift of our salvation.  As we prepare for our celebration of His Advent, may God’s gift to us change us and make us whole.  For this can only occur because of Jesus sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary for all of us Saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

One of the joys of Pastoral ministry is the opportunity to meet with the Council and discuss the business of the church.  This past Sunday we met as we do monthly to discuss the day to day operations of the church and the issues that come up that we as a council have to deal with.  Well, like with most organizations, meetings can sometimes go long, and church council is no different.  But what is different is that I need these meetings, no matter how long they last, to insure I am meeting the needs of you the people of God I have been called to serve. 

Usually we meet on Tuesday’s, but this month due to schedule conflicts we met Sunday afternoon beginning at 2PM.  I told my wife, I should be home for dinner, and she was preparing a glazed ham with all the fixings.  Well, as 5:30 rolled around, I called Michele and said, go ahead and eat without me.  When I arrived home about 8:30, I found out, I was missed and I missed out on a good glazed ham dinner meal.

In tonight’s text we hear the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy of a new covenant.  The fulfillment is found in the meal that Jesus Christ institutes and shares with His disciples.  Hear again a portion of the text of Luke:

“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

God’s focus for us today is this meal that Jesus Christ instituted.  It isn’t glazed ham, but the greatest meal we can partake of this side of heaven.  For, we find that from the prophets and especially Jeremiah, he foretold of this meal as our ‘new covenant in Jesus Christ Blood’ for ‘this cup is poured out for us’.  In receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, we enter into the everlasting covenant that is the forgiveness of sins and life and salvation.  When Jeremiah said the covenant would be placed on our hearts, it is fulfilled as we receive Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood on our lips.  We receive this gift that Jesus instituted on Maundy Thursday and our lives are forever changed.

Yet, as with any covenant, we are still sinful creatures and do break the covenant with God that He has made with us in and through our baptism and in our receipt of the Lord’s Supper.  But what is different is that God Who made this covenant with us, does not forget us or depart from us.  For Jeremiah tells us He that is God will remember our sin no more.  Therefore in this Paschal Meal, instituted and prepared for us by Jesus Christ, where we receive His precious Body and Blood, we will hear God’s Word clearly fulfilled from Jeremiah through Luke of remembering our sin no more when we receive this Holy Meal.  And this is why we not only can come and hear the words of forgiveness of the Gospel, but heartily eat and drink His precious Body and Blood as often as we can.   For Jesus Christ Body and Blood will strengthen us for our lives outside of the church walls.  It is meant to feed us on a regular basis, because we need it and should desire it regularly, just as much as we feed ourselves the earthly food on a daily basis three meals a day and sometimes even snacks between meals. 

This meal is not only to remind us of God’s covenant with us on our hearts, but especially during this Advent season to help us clearly hear the prophets message and its fulfillment heard in scripture and in the manger in Bethlehem and prepared for us here in church.  For Jesus meal that we “do…in remembrance of Jesus Christ” and His innocent life, death and resurrection gives us the forgiveness of sins and life and salvation for all of us Saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sermon 12112011 Advent 3

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Heavenly Father, You clearly prophecy through Jeremiah and the prophets and open up to us the truth of the scripture message.  May we hear in Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant how You forgive us our sins.  For this only occurs through what Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ has done on the Cross of Calvary for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

For our confirmation students this year, we have required them to sign a ‘covenant’ with us.  In the covenant there are some requirements and expectations that both myself as Pastor, them as students and you as congregational members are required to fulfill.  What most of us may not realize is that we enter covenants all the time.  How about when you bought your first car?  Took out your first loan on your house?  Or got your first license, whether, driving, marriage or hunting.  Covenants are a daily part of business in the world.  We even find that in the bible covenants were used, not only between men for business dealings, but also between God and man.

Jeremiah the prophet clearly prophesies about a ‘new covenant’.  Hear his prophecy:

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

The covenant that Jeremiah prophesied impacts each and every one of us today.  Jeremiah said, “But this covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God…  God places this covenant within us when we are baptized in the waters of baptism.  When water with Word is intimately connected, and God’s grace is showered over us, we are made God’s people and forgiven for our sins.  As God’s people we receive not only forgiveness of sins, but life and salvation brought to us through what Jesus Christ has done for all of us on the cross of Calvary.  And we clearly hear through Jeremiah, that God says, “I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 

Yet, what does it mean to be God’s people?  What does it mean to have written on our hearts, God’s law?  What does it mean for us today to be in covenant with God?  Being in covenant means we are in relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We are in a personal relationship with God the Father Who provides for our every physical need.  We are in a personal relationship with God the Son, Who died on the Cross of Calvary to set us free from the bondage of sin.  We are in a personal relationship with God the Holy Spirit, Who calls, gathers and enlightens us daily.  This covenant is the Christian life.  It is the life we are called to lead maintaining our focus on what God did for us in the waters of baptism when He washed us clean and placed His law in our hearts.  We feel His law on our hearts when we feel sorry for our sins and return to God in our worship and confession that we are sinful creatures.

And thus, when we confess our sins, the promise God makes to us through the prophet Jeremiah becomes a personal reality.  Our sins that we carry, no matter how big or small God says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.  The freedom we receive that Jeremiah tells us about is not something that occurs irregularly, but every time we come and worship God and hear the words of absolution, I speak at the beginning of the service, where by Christ’s command and in His stead, I proclaim, “I declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
As we continue to prepare for the coming of our Lord and journey with the prophets during this Advent season, we can boldly confess our sins and receive the forgiveness offered to us through what Jesus Christ has done for us on Calvary.  For in celebrating and remembering the coming of the Christ Child in the manger, the covenant God has made with us and placed on our hearts becomes more tangible.  And we begin to understand the sacrifice Jesus made in coming in a manger to fulfill the covenant made with and for us in our baptism through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
//trial script