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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sermon 10022011

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, You are the foundation and cornerstone of our church.  When You laid down Your life and fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament, we didn’t believe until You were raised on the third day.  You are the cornerstone upon which our faith is built.  Enable us to rest in You and daily call upon You to walk with us as we exercise our muscle of faith.  For You are the cornerstone of the Church of Jesus Christ and of our lives for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Recently the earthquakes that rattled the East Coast, specifically Virginia and next door here in Colorado and the aftershocks associated with events of this magnitude required Engineers to closely inspect famous structures like the Washington Monument and The National Cathedral.  Found to be structurally sound this was good news for not only the government, but proves that the cornerstone that each of these buildings was built upon was chosen properly.  Interestingly the cornerstone connects clearly for us today to our Gospel lesson.

In today’s Gospel, we heard the parable of the landowner and the vineyard.  Following that parable, Jesus makes the clearest point to the crowd, specifically the scribes, Pharisee’s and all of His opponents and even us today, ‘they have rejected Him’.  With the words, “Have you never read in the scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”.  This clear reference to Psalm 118, for the second time in this chapter of Matthew shows two important things.  First, the Holy Scriptures, specifically the Old Testament foretold of the coming Messiah.  Second, that this Messiah Who comes is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.  And those speaking against Jesus Christ have clearly rejected Him and His mission to come and save the lost.

The question for us today is clear.  Have we rejected Jesus Christ today, like the Pharisee’s, Scribes and other opponents?  Have we disposed of the cornerstone of our faith upon which the New Testament church is built?  If we have, Jesus profound words in response to this choice are clear, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces fruits of the kingdom.”  Harder words could not be said.  Jesus clearly is trying to get us to return to the faith that was given to us in our baptism and which we made our own in our confirmation and affirmation of baptism and ‘produce fruit’.

But the fact remains, yes our name may be written in the record book of the congregation, recorded as being confirmed in the eyes of the church, though it may be a matter of record on paper, what about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  Is your relationship only one of receipt in coming to church one hour a week, sitting in the pew, standing when required and coming forward only if absolutely necessary?  Have you opened your Bible and read God’s word daily, seeking to encounter Jesus Christ?  Have you prayed for not only the sick, homebound or relatives, but all of the members and fellow believers of Emmanuel?  Have you prayed for the worship service to be for God’s glory?  Have you ever wondered how the solid foundation of the church crumbles, if Jesus Christ is taken out of our worship, His Word and especially His sacrament?  And last, have you ‘produced fruit’ for the Kingdom of God?

You see, the foundation of Jesus Christ found in His Word is the cornerstone of our faith.  Without what Jesus Christ has done on the Cross of Calvary for each and every one of us, and continues to do for us today, our world, our church and our faith would crumble.  We are lost without Jesus Christ and totally dependent upon His salvific work for us and for all of mankind.  Our relationship with Jesus Christ needs to be a daily walk with Him, even a struggle at times where we call upon Him and seek to not only be fed daily with His Word, but seek out others and share the relationship He has with us.  This is the ‘fruit for the kingdom’ that Jesus speaks of in response to the Pharisee’s and other opponents who reject Him.

To be clear, we as Lutherans discount and hold as not true the notion of ‘decision theology’, but we strongly affirm the need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ Who was crucified for each of us.  For all of us this relationship is different, but it is a relationship which transforms each of us in a special way.  This transformation, God’s direct action upon our lives we have the opportunity to share.  That’s right, the Great Commission calls us to share our personal relationship with Jesus Christ with everyone we come in contact with and it isn’t just here within the four walls of the building we call the ‘church’. 

We are empowered to share the transformation that has occurred in our lives with everyone whether at work, school, Wal-Mart, football practice, volleyball practice, scouts, harvesting corn, planting wheat, at the weekly Farmer’s Market or sitting around drinking coffee at Kansasland Tire or the Co-Op.  Our mission field is beyond the doors of our church in the lives of the people we encounter on a daily basis.  For we model the Christian life and tell others about our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and what He has done on the Cross of Calvary for each and every one of us Saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
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