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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sermon 09252011


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!  Jesus Christ, the Pharisee’s tried to get You to answer their question, but in Your wisdom Your question to them caught them in a quandary.  We like the Pharisee’s want our questions answered, but the truth is our focus should not be to ‘prove ourselves’, but rely upon Your grace offered to us.  For You clearly tell us, if we would believe like the ‘tax collectors and prostitutes’, we will go into the kingdom of God, for this promise is made to and for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

As the room filled with perfume, it was fairly obvious that the woman pouring it was doing something uncommon, out of the ordinary and to some a waste.  Then one of the men thought, “If this man was a prophet, He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

This story from Luke encapsulates for us today a message that the Pharisee’s from our Gospel reading could not understand.  A lady of the night, one who was of the lowest strata of society, who would be seen walking the streets in what we today would call the ‘red light district’, would enter into the kingdom of heaven before the Pharisee.  The Pharisees, best known as the most influential religious and political party of the New Testament, who kept the fast properly, washed their hands, served the church and the best known of the Pharisee’s is the prolific New Testament writer we know as Paul.  Yet, this unholy woman who sold her body for sinful pleasure would enter the kingdom first.  How is this so?

Ironically, Jesus explains it clearly for the Pharisee’s and us today.  Jesus says, “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him”.  You see, the Pharisee’s had contempt for John the Baptist, as the herald of the coming Messiah.  John told them, there is one coming that I am unworthy to untie His sandal.  Coming without malice and in the way of righteousness, calling for repentance, John told the Pharisee’s and anyone who would listen, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.” Jesus is coming and is now here. 

So when Jesus arrived to fulfill scripture and ‘fulfill all righteousness’, John consented to the Master’s Plan and Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan.  In that moment when Jesus came out of the water, the Trinity was revealed, the Voice of the Father from Heaven, the Spirit descending as a dove upon the Bodily form of Jesus Christ incarnate and John seeing this and knew his role would now diminish, because he had fulfilled God’s plan for him.

The message Jesus brings to the forefront with the Pharisee’s when they try to challenge His authority is that they reject God, God’s plan and what has been foretold for all time, the coming Messiah.  In rejecting God and this concrete reality of the Messiah, these prostitutes and tax collectors, whom the Pharisee’s eyed with deep derision would enter the kingdom before them, because of their simple faith and believing all the prophets and especially John the Baptist.

We are no different today.  We like the Pharisee’s want all the glory and all the rewards of the kingdom of God, but by our own actions or inactions we reject the reality of God’s presence and fulfillment of the plan of salvation.  Our society and culture see’s church as a social club of sorts, where if we come for the one hour a week, pay our weekly offering or our token from the harvest, make sure our name and that of our family is on the role of the church so we are assured of entrance into heaven, that is enough.  Please hear clearly, just as the Pharisee’s were told, the harlots and tax collectors will enter before each and every one of us.  This is still true for us today as well if we only see our Christianity and our faith as a status symbol or something to ‘show off’ like the Pharisee’s.

How then may we enter into heaven?  It requires not only trust and faith in Jesus Christ, but the personal relationship with Him, not just weekly at worship at 9AM on Sunday morning, but daily in His Word and living out His love for us and for all people.  Letting His Word transform our daily lives by reading His Word, praying for each other as we were reminded last week with Kasey Stramel and his rock on the altar and asking for the Holy Spirit to transform us today and every day.  In this way we can model for others how God has called, gathered and sanctified us through the work of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives.  It means service to and for the church, the community and the world, looking outward how we can serve, not waiting to be asked or shamed into it, but stepping out in faith and love for what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done and continues to do for us.

For in stepping out in faith, by giving to the church not just an hour a week, a token of appreciation in the offering plate, or the silence of our presence in the pew during worship, Jesus stern words will not apply to us.  We unlike the Pharisee’s, will walk with the tax collectors and the prostitutes into the kingdom of God that is prepared for us.  We will be welcomed with the phrase, ‘welcome, good and faithful servant’.  We will be met by our Lord and Savior who came and suffered the cruelest death for each of us on the Cross of Calvary and rose on the third day proclaiming our freedom from the sins that bind us and the freedom of living as Children of the light.  We will enter into God’s loving, eternal presence and walk the streets of heaven.  We will be part of the communion of saints of Emmanuel of all time and all place in the kingdom of God meant for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
//trial script