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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sermon 12252012 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!  Almighty God, You make Yourself known unto us through Your Son Jesus Christ born in a stable.  Enable us to come on bended knee and with the shepherds make it known to all people.  For Your coming was for all of mankind, especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas morning.  AMEN.

In the Nativity Story when Joseph and Mary are headed to Bethlehem for the census, they encounter an old Shepherd watching over his flock.  Rough around the edges though he is, he invites Mary to warm up by the fire he has to keep warm.  After warming up during their long journey, Mary and Joseph continue to Bethlehem.  What is extraordinary is what occurs later that night.  The angels appear to the shepherds watching over their sheep, including this one who was so warm and caring to Mary and delivers the greatest message to them. 
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.

This message from the angels to the shepherds inspired them to leave their flocks and go in search of the Christ Child laying in a manger.  Our business people of today would claim it was not good business practice leaving their sheep alone out in the field and not protecting them better, but when inspired by faith and encountering God’s angels delivering such a powerful message of the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, the city of David, the shepherds were divinely inspired to go and see this Child.

Just as the shepherds were moved to go see Christ the Lord, they have made it known to and for us today what they found.  The Nativity Story is a perfect example of the continuing message of the coming of the Savior and as we gather here this morning in celebration of His birth, we remember this great event as well.  We come, not because we have to, but because God draws us to Himself.  Last night we heard the birth narrative and this morning we hear John’s response of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.  We are drawn to Jesus Christ because of the greatest gift He gives us, His life on the Cross of Calvary and sacrifice in order to take away our sins.  In, through and by His precious Body and Blood offered to and for us we receive not only life and salvation, but also the forgiveness of sins.

The shepherds had no idea what the implications would be, but we today having heard the same message from the last 2000 years the narrative of the Birth of the Babe in Bethlehem have a clearer picture of the divine implications of the events that the shepherds witnessed.  We look not with eyes of witness like the shepherds, but with eyes of faith given to us in our baptism and fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.  We have been baptized into not only the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also His birth in the manger.  Our connection is clear, because of Jesus Christ coming to set us free from sin, death and the devil.  We are connected clearly with His birth in the stable in Bethlehem and by the witness of the shepherds who heard the angels and saw the Child and today again tell of the great mystery made known to us today in His precious Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins.  May this message and witness of the shepherds inspire us to spread the message of Jesus Birth to the ends of the earth, since it is the greatest gift given to us on Christmas.  For this is the gift offered at the altar and offered for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas morning.  AMEN.

Sermon 12242012 Midnight Christmas Eve 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! Grant we ask You Almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only begotten Son in the flesh, Jesus Christ may set us free who are held in bondage under the yoke of sin.  For the multitude of angels and the heavenly hosts heralded His birth in the city of David, Bethlehem.  May we come on bended knee, welcome Him and thank Him for His entrance into the World for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas Eve Night.  AMEN.

When we look to the manger scene and see the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying there, so innocent He was and would remain sinless for His entire life.  Jesus came and was born in a lowly manger because there was no room in the inn.  Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords did not enter with the sound of human trumpets like the King of England or the Pope in Rome or the President of the United States, but Jesus entrance into the world was heralded with the multitude of heavenly hosts proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”.  This great host of angels heralded the single greatest miracle of all of creation.  It was the proclamation of the fulfillment of the prophets of the Old Testament of the birth of the Savior of the World.

Jesus birth, unlike any other birth was where God came down from heaven and took on human flesh.  Without sin, Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary and became truly human.  This was to fulfill the plan of salvation for all of mankind that we confess in the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed.  Jesus birth was the beginning of His earthly journey that would show His divinity by His miracles and His humanity by His emotions, care and compassion for the disciples and the people He encountered.  Jesus Christ in taking on human form, entered into this world with a sole destination, initially as He rode in His mother’s womb upon the ass or beast of burden, His destination was Bethlehem where He was born, but ultimately it was Golgotha perched between two criminals hanging on the Cross.  Jesus Christ Who we look to in the manger tonight, came in order to take our sins upon Himself, not only our sins, but our sickness, our hurts, our pains and especially anything that hurts us in mind, body or spirit.  In, through and by Jesus Christ simple action of humble obedience and beginnings in the manger and ultimately by His sacrifice on Calvary for all of mankind Jesus Christ offers all of us life and salvation.

Tonight as we come to receive His precious Body and Blood from the altar of our Lord, we receive another of the great mysteries of our faith.  Through Jesus innocent sacrifice, we remember in our receipt of His Body and Blood His great sacrifice on Calvary.  We remember Jesus Christ great love for us manifest in His offering us life and salvation.  We remember Jesus Christ offer of forgiveness of sins for us.  We remember this all begins with a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in a manger because there was no room in the inn.  We hear this clearly from the angels and the multitude of heavenly hosts saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”.

Tonight we come on bended knee in front of the manger to receive the ultimate Christmas present.  It isn’t an iPad, a computer game, a new car or television, removal of sickness or disease from our family or friends or even jewelry that we wear on our fingers, necks or ears, but we receive the gift of life and salvation found in, by and through Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood broken and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins. This is the ultimate Christmas present offered for us that is bound in swaddling cloths and lying in the manger.  For this present is offered to us and heralded for us by the angels and multitude of heavenly hosts.  This present is offered for all of mankind, but especially all of us who are gathered here at Emmanuel this evening with our receipt of Jesus Christ Body and Blood for life, salvation and the forgiveness of sins for all of us saints gathered here this Christmas Eve nights.  AMEN.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sermon 12242012 Early Christmas Eve 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!  O God, You have made this Holy night to shine with the brightness of the true light, Jesus Christ.  Grant all of us gathered here to behold the earthly mystery of our Savior, the Light of the World and embrace Him with the fullness and joys of our hearts as we gather around the manger with all of the animals.  For His birth fulfills the promise of the Messiah for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas Eve.  AMEN.

In a lowly manger, because there was no room in the inn, our Savior, Jesus Christ was surrounded, not by royalty in fine linen, but by the animals created by His Father and our God.  With humblest of beginnings the animals that Adam named as he looked for a mate, looked down upon the Savior of the World.  Whether it was the roosters, cows, the ox or the donkey, the pigs or the sheep, each animal provided a different perspective of the love, not only of the Savior, but of adoration of Jesus Christ laying in the manger wrapped in swaddling cloths.

For in complete fulfillment of the prophecies of old, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus Christ into this world in the city of David, Bethlehem.  From the humblest of beginnings, laying on the straw that was used for feed for the cattle and sheep, Jesus Christ entered this world in the humblest of ways, but heralded the greatest changes for all of mankind.  Jesus entrance was the beginning of the fulfillment of the plan of salvation.  It was the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament and the prophets of the coming Messiah.  Jesus Christ came to set we the captives free from sin, death and the devil and all of this began with His laying in a manger, because there was no room in the inn surrounded by the lowly animals.

The animals that surrounded Joseph, Mary and Jesus, not only witnessed the greatest mystery of life a child’s birth, but the divine mystery of how Jesus Christ, Son of God and our Savior entered into relationship with humanity.  With His humble birth, the relationship with humanity would take on infinite dimension even with His parents, the animals and with each of us gathered here tonight to celebrate His birth.  The relationship of Jesus Christ with mankind was not of potential, but fulfillment for each of us.  Jesus Christ comes to each of us and as we look upon the manger, unlike the animals who used it as a feed source, we who gather tonight see the manger as the source of the heavenly food of Jesus Christ presented unto us.

Jesus Christ present to us tonight is that we celebrate our personal relationship with Him with His entrance into the World.  It is the offer of this relationship that we partake of when we come on bended knee at the manger and the altar and call upon Him with our every need.  No matter if it is sickness of the body, the soul or the spirit, God in Jesus Christ coming in the manger came to carry our burdens for each and every one of us.  Jesus Christ carried all our burdens right to the Cross of Calvary and offers each of us the personal relationship with Him and the promise of life and salvation for all of mankind.  This offer of relationship comes from a stable full of animals surrounding Joseph and Mary and a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger.  For Jesus Christ came into the World to have a personal relationship with all of mankind, especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel on bended knee around the manger this Christmas Eve.  AMEN.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sermon 12232012 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, the Old Testament is full of prophets that foretell of a great miracle.  Deuteronomy clearly reveals this miracle to us that You will raise a prophet unlike any other.  This prophecy and promise are of the coming Savior, Jesus Christ.  May we not only remember this promise, but see with the eyes of faith the fulfillment of the coming Messiah.  For Jesus is not just a babe born in a manger, but a prophet, priest and King for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

In the tradition of Lutheranism, we have what is known as “Confirmation”.  Some of our youth see it as something to endure or a hurdle to over-come, others see it as a learning opportunity where they will be introduced to the faith of the church.  One of the topics that is discussed in this class is the offices of Jesus Christ.  Unlike the office of President of the United States, Senator or Representative, or Sheriff of Sherman County, the offices that Jesus Christ fulfilled in His life, death and resurrection are simply, the office of prophet, priest and king.

Our Old Testament lesson this morning is a prophecy by Moses of the coming of a great prophet.  Moses writes, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you”.  This prophet unlike Moses in function would have a special relationship with the Lord.  Moses continues, “I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”  With a direct speaking role by the prophet, it is not just of a ‘figure person’ that is not respected, but the relationship revealed here has consequences that are dire for the hearer, including us today.  Moses continues, “It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”  The consequences are clear, if we do not listen, “it”, also known as divine judgment will be levied and life itself as implied by Moses will be required of those who do not listen, heed or follow the teachings of the prophet.  This includes each and every one of us today.

Our society looks at divine judgment with disdain.  Some deny there is a God, some by our actions only call upon God when we are in direst need, like sickness, distress or doubt of what we are to do.  Clearly Moses is instructing the Old Testament people and us today that we are to call upon God and heed His call daily and calls for us to follow a vastly different reality.  Not only is it instruction for how we are to live, but also how we are to believe, hence the need for confirmation, Sunday School, bible study and daily reading, praying, marking and inwardly digesting the Word of God.  Yet, our sinfulness rationalizes away the need for this and replaces it with the radio, iPad, computer, television, cable, movies, sporting events and other worldly or earthly entertainment that has no moral fiber or leanings and requires nothing of us and only entertains us.

The real idea that Moses is instructing us about today is that there would come a prophet after Moses Who would turn the world upside down.  Not necessarily in the ways of man, but definitely in the ways of God.  The prophet Moses proclaims is coming is none other than Jesus Christ.  It is His coming in the flesh to save mankind that radically alters the paradigm of our world.  Jesus Christ being born in a humble manger, surrounded by animals and the stench and stink of the stalls reveals His humble beginnings that were clearly destined to change the world, not like a rich ruler, but by a humble child of a carpenter.

The prophet that Jesus was would tell, not of riches and things that would benefit the people of and on this earth, but of the eternal things that would not pass away.  Jesus Christ came and was willing and obedient even unto death for all of mankind.  Jesus Christ was the prophet that would radically change the perception of the world and alter our understanding of God, His Word and His promises.  In, through and by His coming into this world, Jesus Christ came to set us free from our sins by giving ‘it’, His life as a ransom for all of mankind.  This is what we are preparing for during this Advent season.  This is what Moses prophesied about and which we will celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Jesus Christ in fulfillment of Moses prophesy came to set all of us free from our sins as the greatest gift given for all of mankind, especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12192012 Sermon Advent 4 Mid-Week - Not Preached

This sermon was to be preached December 19, 2012, however, due to the Blizzard, services were cancelled.

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!  Gracious ruler descended from a royal line.  The names of Your ancestors connect You not only with the royal line, but with the stories of old.  These stories are a connection to the people, but also to the promise of Your coming to set the people free.  May we understand we have been baptized into this line and our redemption draws near as we come and celebrate Your birth in the manger for all of mankind, especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this evening.  AMEN.

Tonight we have heard one of the most cherished short stories of scripture.  The story is of Ruth, who takes her rightful place in the royal line that leads directly to Jesus Christ.  Ruth’s story is clearly one not only of heart ache, loss and pain, but more so a story of how one woman remained dedicated to her mother-in-law Naomi.  This model for us tonight clearly is of the devotion of one woman to a family that she has married into, but more so how Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of devotion of God for His people Israel.

Throughout the Old Testament there are bread crumbs of the coming Messiah, whether from Genesis and the Fall of Adam and Eve, to Isaac and Jacob and the promised Messiah, to Obadiah and the prophets speaking of the last days.  Clearly God in scripture has placed gems in the midst of the story of salvation foretelling of the coming Messiah.  Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy with the Royal Line that can be traced from Adam, through David and Solomon to Joseph.

But of what consequence is a royal line for us tonight?  The significance is not only in the ability to trace Jesus ancestors, like a lot of people do today on sites like, the significance is the fulfillment of the promise of God for each of us today.  In, through and by our baptism in the font, when we were made heirs of the kingdom of God, we have been grafted into the royal line with, for and by the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.  When the water intimately connected with the Word was poured over our head or that we were immersed in, God made us heirs of eternal life.  Yes we have an earthly father, but now, by God’s greatest mystery, we now have a connection to the royal line of Jesus Christ.

This fulfillment of the promise of God in, through and by the Messiah and the royal line of patriarchs and matriarchs enables us today to understand we here in Goodland, Kansas are not just Lutherans, not just Christians, we are grafted into the royal line of Jesus Christ.  The promises made to Israel as they left Egypt.  The promises made to and fulfilled through David of making a kingdom.  The promises made Uzziah and Ahab and all of the descendants is fulfilled in each of us tonight.

Therefore, as a royal people, descended by and through Water and Blood, fed with the precious gift of Jesus Christ Body and Blood, we no longer are strangers in this land, but heirs of eternal life through Jesus Christ sacrifice for all of mankind.  And the beginning of the sacrifice occurs on bended knee around a manger, where Jesus Christ was placed, because there was no room in the inn.  So let us who are grafted into the Royal Line of the King of Kings, venture to Bethlehem to pay homage to a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger.  For Jesus Christ, our Royal Priest and King comes into this World to set all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel free from our sins because of His great love for all of us.  AMEN.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12192012 Advent Service Cancelled

Due to the weather, closing of the interstate and the general safety of our church family, services at Emmanuel for December 19, 2012 are cancelled.

We look forward to your attendance at Christmas Eve Early, Late and Christmas Day services.

Pastor Darian L. Hybl

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sermon 12162012 Advent 3

This morning we have enjoyed the Children's Christmas Program.  Unique in a wonderful way this story is told from the animals perspective.

May everyone who has enjoyed this program understand the real reason for the season.

Yours In Christ,
Pastor Darian L. Hybl

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sermon 12122012 Advent 3 Mid-Week

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! Gracious Redeemer, You came into this world heralded by John the Baptist, the son of Elizabeth and Zacharias.  Yet, even before either of You left the womb, John’s reaction to hearing Your mother’s voice was unmistakable.  John you lept in your mother’s womb, because of the promise being fulfilled by Jesus coming to set His people free for all mankind and Mary’s special role as ‘theotokos’, the ‘Mother of God’.  May we who hear the message of salvation understand it is spoken to and for each of us today, especially for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this evening.  AMEN.

One of the neatest things that one can do as a child is to go swimming.  For some children the water is a scary place, but for others it is calming and soothing.  A peculiar characteristic of water is how sound travels.  Whales and other mammals that live under the sea use sound to converse, like we do to talk, but unlike sound outside of water that travels only short distances, water carries sounds for hundreds if not thousands of miles.  This characteristic of water allows the creatures of the deep to not only communicate long distances, but the message carried remains clear and unmistakable.

So to tonight, the message that we heard from Luke is very clear and unmistakable.  “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb”.  Clearly, even with the sound of Mary’s voice, John still in his mother’s womb heard the voice of the woman who was carrying the Savior of the World.  Even through the skin, the amniotic sac and fluid, John, the one who would herald the coming of the Messiah was sending a message not only to his mother, but for all of us today.  John lept in his mother’s womb for joy that the Savior was so near to him and clearly shows us today that life does begin from the time of conception.

But what is more profound is what occurs next.  “And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”  The coming of the Holy Spirit upon Elizabeth and her inspiration and acclimation of Mary and especially the ‘fruit of her womb’ not only indicates the gift being born in Mary’s womb, but the gift that we prepare for even and especially today.  The gift is of the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ for all of mankind.

Tonight we continue to prepare the hard soil of our hearts for the coming of the Savior.  Yes, we have not had moisture to soften the soil for the sprouting of the wheat for our spring harvest, but tonight we hear the greater message of salvation of our souls in the coming of the Savior for each and every one of us.  This message of salvation borne and inspired by the Holy Spirit in Elizabeth is the same message heralded for us today.  It is the message of the coming Messiah Jesus Christ Who saves us.  It is not only of His being borne by Mary, but of His coming to set us free from sin, death and the devil.

How can this occur with a little babe?  Come and see, come and experience the grace, joy and peace offered by Jesus Christ.  Just as the people experienced Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit and Elizabeth was inspired by the Holy Spirit to make the bold acclimation she did, we to, who come on bended knee are called, gathered and enlightened by the Holy Spirit to make the same clear and bold acclimation and declaration about Jesus Christ.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, just as the rain softens the soil to allow the wheat to germinate, the Holy Spirit works in all of us our salvation that is offered by Jesus Christ and His coming.

In, through and by the Holy Spirit’s work, we are set free to be the people of God.  By example here tonight we hear how John the Baptist even with unspoken words, once he heard Mary’s voice, knew the Savior was not just a promise, but a reality.  We to who hear Jesus call for each of us have a Pentecost moment where we like Elizabeth can be filled with the Holy Spirit and clearly proclaim our “Emmanuel”, our “God with Us”.  For this is the promise we not only hear about, but we receive when we come and hear His Word, heed His call and herald the message for all of mankind.  This is not the sound of a clanging gong, but the sound of our Savior Who comes to set all of mankind free, especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this evening in preparation for the coming of our Savior.  AMEN.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sermon 12092012 Advent 2

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 of hosts the day that is coming, burning like a furnace where for some it will be a refining fire, for others it will consume.  May we be refined and not be ashes under the soles of others feet, so we may become perfect and more like You and hear the words of the prophets foretelling of Your coming to save all of mankind.  For this promise is made, from Genesis to Malachi and for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

This past summer when four of our confirmands attended Confirmation Camp, we were part of a group in exile.  As you know we usually go to Sky Ranch to experience God in a more deep and profound way, but with the fires raging Sky Ranch was evacuated and we were able to attend Highlands Presbyterian Camp.  Sitting on the benches outside of the main hall you could see straight North and without fail see the plumes of smoke lofting into the sky from the fire that caused the evacuation of Sky Ranch.  Matter of fact on our drive there we saw from over 100 miles away the smoke and debris of that fire.

Consider our Old Testament Lesson this morning. Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, whose book and in fact our lesson is the book end of the entire Old Testament, specifically the last recorded words of the Old Testament foretells of a time that seemed eerily similar to the fire we could see from both Highlands Camp and our drive.  Malachi writes, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace”.  With allusion to similar circumstances of the book of Daniel of the burning furnace, Malachi tells of a furnace that is burning, not gently, but with vigor and destruction.  He continues, “and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff, and the day that is coming will set them ablaze…so that it will leave them neither root nor branch”.  This fire will not be quenched, fed by the chaff of the evildoer and arrogant of this world it will not burn gently but consume everything it touches that is evil.

Yet, the promise revealed is not only crystal clear, but full of sweet Gospel.  Malachi writes, “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings”.  This promise given by Malachi is directly from God for His people and for us today.  It is a promise for those of us who fear God’s name, who humble themselves and bend the knee and who are not arrogant and ‘self-appointed righteous people’.  The promise is what we are preparing for this morning and this entire season of Advent.  It is the promise and the fulfillment of the promise found in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

During the mid-week and last Sunday we sang the hymn of “Prepare the Royal Highway” and that is exactly what John the Baptist job was to prepare for the promised Messiah.  As a kind of “Elijah” John’s calling was to call the people to repentance and return to prepare for the coming Messiah.  For the Messiah is coming to “restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers”.  Jesus coming is a restoration or return of our hearts to the purity that was originally intended in the Garden of Eden before the Fall of Adam and Eve.

Jesus Whom we are preparing for with every passing day of Advent comes to restore us to Himself.  Jesus Christ comes “so that He [I] will not come and smite the land with a curse”, but comes to restore us and return us to the kingdom of God.  Fallen creatures as we are, John came to begin the process and the Christ child we look for in the manger fulfills this process with His life, death and resurrection.

Therefore, we who believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah Who came and died to take away our sins and confess our sins, receive the greatest gift offered mankind, the forgiveness of sins won on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind by Jesus Christ.  This is our preparation for the promises foretold by Malachi in the Old Testament and which we prepare for during this season of Advent.  May all of us who hear the Gospel of salvation freely offered by Jesus Christ be changed by the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies us and calls us to the one true faith.  And may our preparation during Advent, not only be a preparation of our houses and homes, but true preparation of our hearts, not to be ashes under the feet of others, but may we be refined in order to enter the manger and on bended knee welcome the Christ Child Who comes to set us free to be saints gathered here at Emmanuel Lutheran in Goodland, KS this morning.  AMEN.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sermon 12052012 Advent 2 Mid-Week

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! Gracious Heavenly Father, You sent Your angel to proclaim the fulfillment of Elizabeth and Zacharias heartfelt desire for a child, but our human condition of doubt entered into the equation.  May we not doubt Your promises, but believe, for You are unchangeable in Your divine will to set us free from our sins by sending our Savior, Your Son, Jesus Christ.  May our hearts continue to be prepared for Jesus coming as foretold by John the Baptist, the son of Elizabeth and Zacharias for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

In years past if someone were given the moniker “Pious”, it was usually greatly misunderstood.  If you were to use it in church circles, people considered that this person was ‘better’ than everyone else, even ‘closer to God’.  Yet tonight we encounter Elizabeth and Zacharias who were well known for their piety and devotion early in the New Testament.  Zacharias was devoted as a priest in the temple and Elizabeth was a good wife of her husband, both of them were good Jews.  Not unlike some couples today, Elizabeth and Zacharias wanted children and for years were not blessed with children’s pitter patter of little feet around the house.  They doubted they would ever have children.

Enter the angel of the Lord.  As we heard last week the angel while Zacharias was performing his priestly duties in the Temple saw the angel of the Lord.  And Zacharias was told of a child to be born to him and Elizabeth.  How does Zacharias respond, not with “Alleluia’s”, but with clear doubt saying, “How will I know this for certain?”  It is clear that Zacharias has human doubts and these cloud even the vision of an angel standing in front of him in God’s house around His altar.  Since Zacharias doubts even the angel of God, known as Gabriel, there are clear consequences that he will endure, he will be silent, unable to speak, but God though He could have, does not withdraw His promise through Gabriel of a son to be born to Elizabeth and Zacharias after such a long period of being childless.

We are no different today.  We have clear promises from God to us through His Word of the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Even when we doubt, God can and does accomplish His plans through us.  God still fulfills and reveals His glory to and for each of us today.  But there is a cost for our doubt, just as Zacharias found out in doubting the angel Gabriel and the plans of God.  We today sometimes doubt God’s potential provision, action and involvement here at Emmanuel, whether it was funding a Pastor full-time, getting enough money to make the church more energy efficient or even expanding the work of the church in the community, we honestly doubt God’s action and what can be done.  We pay the price for it, but in walking out in faith and not fear God will bless us and come in a most wonderful way.
For Elizabeth and Zacharias it would be the birth of their son, John the Baptist, who would herald the Savior by ‘preparing the royal highway’.  God still fulfilled His plan through these two pious servants for all of us today.  And God will fulfill His plan in the life of Emmanuel as well. 

We as God’s people are enabled by God to understand His divine will more fully as we tell and retell these stories of God’s action in the life of people like Elizabeth and Zacharias.  For we tonight continue to prepare our hearts, souls and spirits for the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ for all of mankind, not doubting God, but understanding that all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel are included in the preparation of our lives for the fulfillment of the promises of God of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sermon 12022012 Advent 1

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 Lord Our Righteousness as we enter a new church year enable our hearts to hear clearly the Gospel of our salvation brought by Your death on Calvary for us.  Allow us as we prepare our homes and hearts to prepare again for our celebration of Your entrance in Bethlehem.  For You are our righteous branch and will reign as king, not only of the World but of our hearts and souls that You won on Calvary.  For You offer us the greatest gift of salvation freely for all of mankind including all of the saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

In the recent movie Brave it is clear that the Queen ‘runs the kingdom’.  When the clans are gathered together in the great chamber to present the ‘suitors’ for Princes Merida’s hand, the Queen while chaos and fighting are ensuing around her walks through the upheaval and upon reaching her husband and the other leaders of the clans brings order from chaos and restores a clear sense of order.

This morning as we gather at the beginning of another church year, we have the opportunity to bring order from the chaos that surrounds us in the world around us.  Christmas decorations have been in Wal-Mart since before Halloween, ads for the great sales have been assaulting our minds on television, radio and the internet for weeks.  And no longer is there an anticipation of the real reason for the Christmas season, but a dread hoping that it would be over quickly so we can return to the stress free life of family not hovering around, meals that have to be prepared a certain way and the travel required to see everyone..

Our dread over the seasons is a result of our society overtaking the sacredness of the seasons from the church.  We as a church have allowed and catered to society, even though we live in this world, but we should not be ‘of this world’.  Jeremiah the prophet from our Old Testament lesson this morning prophecies clearly about the coming of something greater for all of mankind including we today here in Goodland, KS.  Jeremiah says “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.”  This prophecy of a ‘righteous branch’ is clearly about Jesus Christ Who will come as King and act wisely.  The Gospel we heard this morning is from Palm Sunday.  The expectation was the fulfillment of Jeremiah that Jesus riding on a colt, the foal of the donkey would be ‘crowned King’.  But unlike the events that followed Jesus triumphal entry, Jesus crown was not of gold, but of thorns that cut His brow and ultimately resulted in His innocent death on Calvary.

The first century society expected Jesus to radically change the outcome of persecution that was occurring in that day and age.  But the prophecy of Jeremiah was larger than what they could imagine.  Jesus would radically change their perspective, but it wasn’t what they understood that would change.  Jeremiah continues, ““In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”  Jesus entrance into Jerusalem would herald His being the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind.  Jesus Christ with the title, “The Lord our righteousness” would save Judah and all of mankind.  Jesus Christ would save them and us not from the rulers of the time, the sales at Wal-Mart, Target or any of the on-line merchants, but from the sin that pervaded the people’s lives including ours today.  Jesus in, through and by His death on Calvary would set mankind free from sin, death, the devil, hell and damnation.

This is what we are preparing for as we begin our Advent pilgrimage, the ultimate sacrifice of “The Lord our righteousness”, Jesus Christ.  But ultimately the responsibility of change in each of us will only come as a result of our believing that Jesus Christ came to set us free.  We will not be free from the bonds that society tries to place us under until we change ourselves, but this only occurs through the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is only by God’s work in our lives that we will be changed.  Now you would rightly say, how can we change a society, we in and of ourselves are unable to do this, but God working through us is able to change society.  We do this by remembering the real reason for the season, preparing our hearts, souls and spirits for the entrance of a Babe in Bethlehem.

For in our preparing the church for the celebration of Jesus Birth, in our preparing our homes for the mystery of a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and our preparing our hearts for the entrance of Jesus Christ we will be changed and society through us will be changed.  We will not be able to see the change, but God will make the change in His time.  The prophecy and promises are clear for us today through Jeremiah the prophet that “The Lord our Righteousness” comes to set us free to be the people of God.  This is the promise we are not only told of, but are participants of and included in for all of mankind, including all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning as we begin our Advent pilgrimage.  AMEN.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sermon 11282012 Mid-Week Advent 1

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!  Almighty God our Heavenly Father, as we enter the Advent season, prepare our hearts for the entrance of Your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.  The prophets foretold of His coming and we have heard the stories, but let our receipt of the story this year overcome us and grip us so we may embrace not only the story, but our Savior with new found passion and expectation.  We ask this trusting in the grace offered to all the characters of Advent, but especially Zacharias who speaks to us tonight for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Recently we were in Colorado Springs visiting my brother and his family. My niece Abigail and her brother Ethan are great cousins, because they play with Sarah and treat her not only like part of the family, but as a big kid.  Well, Abigail’s room is on the top floor and I wanted to go and see what Sarah, Abigail and Ethan were getting into.  From the other side of the door, I could hear Sarah talking, so I quietly snuck up to the door and began to open it.  As soon as I had started pushing the door Sarah heard it and came to see what was happening with the door.  No sooner had I started to open it then she popped her head around it and I said, ‘boo’.  From the look in her eyes I could tell, she was not only startled, but gripped, not by fear, because she recognized me, but that innocent joy that children have.

This evening, unlike Sarah, we hear of a man named Zacharias.  He was not just a priest, but a man who would hear a promise made to him and his wife.  While completing his priestly duties around the altar of the Lord, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.”  In Zacharias day and age, it was uncommon for angels to appear unless they had a specific purpose to fulfill given to them by God.  So at this time, “12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.”  Not like Sarah who knew her father by sight, Zacharias was fearful, because he did not recognize the angel of the Lord.

The angel spoke clearly and directly to the fear Zacharias felt saying, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.”  This is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation of mankind.  God through His holy angel is telling Zacharias that not only has God heard his petition, God is fulfilling His prayerful desire for his wife Elizabeth and him.

John, his son, who will be born to him and Elizabeth, “will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.”  This promise of John’s birth is not just a fulfillment of a promise, but has a purpose ordained by God.  The angel continues about John, “17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.””  John has his work cut out for him, John will come before the promised Messiah to turn the heart of man and prepare the people for the Lord.  That is his job, his calling and his purpose.

But of what consequence is that for us today this Advent 2012?  You see Zacharias for some is an inconsequential character, but for us today he models clearly that God can, does and will answer our prayers.  When our desires and prayers are for God’s glory, God reveals to us not only His foreknowledge of what would occur, but how God reveals and makes happen the plans for all of humanity of what His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ would fulfill with His birth in Bethlehem.  John was not only a ‘forerunner’, but a ‘banner bearer’ of Jesus Christ.  John’s birth was to come before Jesus and prepare the people for the message of salvation that they would hear, see and experience in Jesus Christ.  Just as farmers prepare the soil for planting the winter wheat, spring corn or any crop, John came to prepare the soil of our hearts for the coming of the Savior.  And here and now Zacharias was the recipient of the promise made to him by the angel of the Lord.  Hence we tonight, who have heard this message again, can begin to break the dry dusty ground of our hearts and prepare our hearts, souls and spirits for the coming of the Messiah for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this evening, just as  Zacharias heart was opened to the fulfillment of his petition.  This is the promise through Zacharias that we are a part of because of our baptism into Jesus Christ birth for all of us saints gathered here this evening.  AMEN.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sermon 11252012 Christ the King Sunday

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 our King, today we celebrate the fulfillment and the ending of the church year.  Though we do not know the day nor the hour of your coming, enable us to understand these final times are an opportunity for preparation.  For our preparation is not of our bodies, but of our soul and its preparation for our entrance into Your kingdom that You have prepared for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Recently I heard of a family that was preparing for December 21, 2012.  If you are unaware, not only is it the Winter Solstice, where the days will begin to get longer, but it is also the day predicted by the Mayan Culture and calendar that the world would end.  The family I heard about is preparing a ‘hide-a-hole’ for when the world devolves into chaos and looting and all kinds of ‘crazy’ things happen.  This preparation seems reminiscent of the cold war years where everybody started building a ‘bomb shelter’, because the Russians had nuclear capability.  However, with this most ‘recent’ scare, we humans who live in this world seem to be more interested in preparing for Armageddon then for our Savior.

The stark reality is that we fear more what other humans can do for or against us than preparing for Jesus return.  This is what this Sunday of the ‘fulfillment’ is all about.  Where Jesus Christ, the bridegroom of the church fulfills the promise made at the Ascension of His second coming.  It is what we specifically pray for in the Nicene Creed a little later this morning when we confess with the whole Christian Church, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.”  Christ will return in glory here to earth which He helped form and shape with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus job is not complete until His return.  And we can prepare, remember in the Gospel this morning of the five wise and the five foolish virgins.  The story is simplistic in nature, but applicable for us this morning.  The foolish virgins didn’t bring oil for their lamps and when the time came were not prepared for entrance with the bridegroom.  But the five virgins who brought oil were prepared and entered with the bridegroom.  Are we no different, do we prepare for things like Birthdays, Anniversaries, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with all of our relatives or for the midnight Black Friday sales for Christmas presents?  Yet, we lack the preparation of the most important God given gift, our souls for the return of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  We will not have the presents for eternity, but we will have our souls for all eternity.

In Facing the Giants, Coach Taylor from the time he introduced the ‘New Philosophy’ inspired his team to give it their very best and prepare for the battle that would take place on the field every Friday night.  It wasn’t anticipating something that would last for eternity, but it was something that would inspire the team to prepare for the future, a long term goal.  Whether it was their studies, their preparation on the field for Friday or in their personal lives, the players learned to look not with the eyes of society, but with Godly eyes, hearts and spirits ready to be filled by God and His promises.  This same fact is true for us today.

We like Coach Taylor need to look to the future, the end times as what we should be preparing for.  The early Church thought that Jesus would return in their lifetime.  Hence, they always had Jesus on their minds.  This is why we say the Early Church was the fastest growing church for all time.  Not only were they persecuted by the Jews, Greeks, Hellenists and other religious organizations, they did everything in secret from worship at the catacombs or where people were buried, to house churches to having symbols and secret sayings to tell if a person was a Christian.

Today in our society, we have buildings, budgets and bulletins that tell us how much we are to spend, where we are to do certain things and when we are to sit down, stand up and what the readings are for the worship service.  The preparation that Jesus is attempting to make a point with concerning the ten virgins is that we do not know the day nor the hour of His coming, but we should be prepared.

The Boy Scouts clearly understand this concept, because their motto is ‘Be Prepared’.  When we are prepared it is not just that all the dishes are put away, the bed made, the toys picked up or the yard looks immaculate, it is deeper and more profound.  Have you placed your personal trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?  And do you trust in the forgiveness of sins offered by His death on Calvary for all of mankind?  These may seem like simplistic questions, but they are profound when we take personal application to our daily lives.

Just as the wise virgins prepared for the bridegroom, we to should prepare our hearts, souls and spirits for the coming of the Messiah and His return for ‘judging’ the living and the dead.  For when we prepare, we not only show our belief by living it out, but we clearly like the football team look not for a failure, but a fulfillment of God’s promises to and for us in our lives.  For God’s promises are crystal clear for us, that God sent His Son into this world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  The fulfillment of the plan of salvation is clear and coming.  Let us as the saints of Emmanuel prepare and be like the wise virgins and live ‘in this world’, but not be ‘of this world’.  Live as prepared disciples of our souls for eternity, not unprepared foolish virgins like our society living in the here and now.  For God prepares us today with His precious Body and Blood we are about to receive for all of us saints gathered here this morning in preparation of our entrance into eternal life with our Lord and Savior.  Thanks be to God for this gift for all the saints, including all of us gathered here this morning at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

11202012 Funeral Sermon for Leo Clifford Hatcher

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!  Gracious Heavenly Father, as we gather here to celebrate the life of Leo our brother in Christ, we who remain on our earthly pilgrimage are reminded that Leo has found the peace of Jesus Christ.  No longer do the struggles of this life bind him, because in, through and by his baptism into Your life, death and resurrection, Leo now rests in Your loving and comforting arms.  May You through Your Gospel enable our hearts to hear Your Word spoken in its truth and purity and comfort us as we mourn.  For though the veil of death separates us today from Leo, 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 that called Leo by name in his baptism surround us so we may hear clearly the Gospel message of the salvation offered through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all Your saints, especially the saints of his family gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

In August 2010 I first set foot in Western Kansas and this pulpit to preach my ‘interview sermon’.  Not only did I preach a sermon, but also a children’s message.  What is ironic is that the Gospel lessons for that Sunday used the simplest, but the most abundant item in Western Kansas in summer and connects us today with biblical times.  You see the lesson revolved around something that Leo was very familiar with and which all of Western Kansas depends upon to make a living.  It isn’t water, which farmers like Leo so desperately need today.  The Gospel revolved around wheat.  Hence, when I arrived Kent and Shelly Willems provided me with a mason jar full of good Western Kansas wheat and I used it as the object of my sermon illustration for the children’s sermon.

Fast-forward two years and this morning we say good bye to a Mid-Western born baby transplanted to the fields and plains of Western Kansas who became a renowned farmer who made his livelihood growing wheat.  Yet our connection today is not just to the farmer, but the story of wheat itself.  In John 12, Jesus Who had just raised Lazarus from the dead enters into the Holy City of Jerusalem encountering the Greeks who desired to see Jesus.  Our text for our consideration continues in John 12:23-26:

John 12:23-26 - 23 And Jesus *answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.


Jesus Christ, knowing the truth of what was to come after the Passover feast clearly says that “the Son of Man will be glorified”.  Jesus knows He is going to the Cross and reveals what for some is a great mystery, but for a farmer like Leo is a well known truth.

Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone”.  We in this life feel alone today of all days when we have come to say goodbye to Leo.  Death has come very close to us and has taken a man we knew and loved as husband, father, grand-father, brother and friend away from us.  But Jesus with the divine knowledge of the Father knew of a different reality that only by faith can we lay claim to.  Jesus continued, “but if it [that is a grain of wheat] dies, it bears much fruit”.  When that grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, just as has occurred earlier this fall when the farmers planted in faith their fields of winter wheat, so to in faith we lay Leo to rest today with full military honors.

But we don’t lay Leo to rest today in doubt or despair, but with a faith that God has given to each and every one of us in our baptism the gift of eternal life.  The day Leo was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Leo, like the wheat was dying to self in order to ‘bear much fruit’. That is the opportunity that God gives each and every one of us today to bear much fruit.  Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me” and Leo served, not only with the Co-Op and the Elks, but in many capacities like the United States Air Force.  As a Crew Chief of a B-47, Leo understood his life as service and bore much fruit in serving our country, state, region and community representing not only Western Kansas, but also modeling for others what ‘bearing fruit’ as a humble ‘wheat farmer’ really meant.  This fruit was a direct result of God active in his life.  For some they only saw the outward always active farmer, but God Who sees the heart of all of us, knew Leo more intimately than even Connie and was working out Leo’s salvation.  God through His Son Jesus Christ would glorify Leo and today we celebrate that glorification in Leo’s entrance into eternal glory with His Lord and Savior.

You see the fruit of God that is Leo’s is sitting here this morning.  The fruit of Leo’s ‘wheat’ is all of us coming to pay our final respects for the child of God that Leo became, because of Jesus Christ in his life.  The fruit also is manifest in his loving family who sat by his side and walked with Leo on this final journey, not to death, but to life eternal.  Clearly the journey has not been easy these last years, but God in calling Leo in, through and by his baptism, has today brought Leo into His eternal presence as a fulfillment of the promise made in his baptism.  That is the same promise made to each of us because of Jesus Christ death on Calvary for all of mankind.  It was Jesus Christ willingness to Glorify the Father that He suffered and died for Leo and for all of us.  We therefore, are not only fruit of Leo, but ultimately fruit of Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary, and all of us are partakers of the gift of eternal life that we share through Jesus Christ. 

May we who gather here today as ‘fruit’ see and understand God’s gift through our baptism into Jesus life, death and resurrection, which is made manifest in Leo’s life and honor and lay claim to the promises of God for all of mankind, especially all of the saints of Leo’s family and all of us gathered here 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 for Leo and each one of us!  AMEN!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sermon 11182012 Thanksgiving Sunday 24th Sunday After Trinity

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!  Most gracious God, according to Your wisdom and at the proper time, the deep waters are opened and clouds drop gentle moisture.  We praise and thank You for our harvest this season, for the fertility of the soil, for the harvesting of crops, for the safety of the laborers, and for all other blessings which You generously pour on our nation.  Give us a full understanding of Your mercy, and enable us in our lives to be respectful, holy, obedient and thankful to You and Your will throughout all our days, for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

If one were able to watch movies from end to beginning knowing the results prior to learning the struggles, the perspective or lessons learned would be lost on most of us.  As humans in order to gain and maintain our connection and engagement, we have to be introduced to a compelling thought, idea or concept that ‘catches’, captures and maintains our interest.  Sermons are no different, week in and week out, I have to begin the sermon with a visual picture that everyone can understand and relate to.  For some Pastor’s and Preacher’s like Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church in California, his suggestion is to begin with people’s needs, then show where God’s Word speaks to the need and then make the personal application.  This approach though simple has enabled Pastor Rick Warren to reach more individuals for Jesus Christ because of the simplistic approach.

This morning I’d like to use a similar approach.  Today we celebrate Thanksgiving in the life of Emmanuel Lutheran Church.  It isn’t about turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie.  We come to give God thanks for bringing us again through another year of harvesting wheat and corn, but also celebrating the third movie in our Films of Faith Series entitled Facing the Giants.  Just as Coach Taylor with his new Philosophy inspired the team to ‘give it all they had’, ‘prepare for rain’ and ‘praise God when they won and praise God when they lost’, the Thanksgiving the team had after winning the State Title wasn’t for the victory, it was for ultimately learning the lesson of ‘Trusting God’ in everything.

When the team finally trusted God for their destiny, they ultimately received God’s greatest blessing of not only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but a reason to be thankful for God’s fulfilling His promise in, to and through them off the field as well as on the field.  The students studies turned around, relationships that were tenuous at best between Father and Son and fellow students, with ‘forgiveness’ and healing became right and the community saw the impact that Coach Taylor was having upon the lives of the players, their families, the community and ultimately the school with winning the State Championship Title.

In stark contrast to our Gospel where life was returned to a woman who had been sick for many years and the raising of the dead young girl of the synagogue leader, their thanksgiving was life and more of it provided by Jesus Christ.  Yet, the reality was their thanksgiving unlike the football team with the State Championship or even we today with a bountiful harvest of wheat in the spring and corn this fall was directly impacted by Jesus Christ.

When we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ our lives will be radically changed.  No longer will the ‘speed bumps’ of life cause us to loose control, because we learn and trust God fully to walk with us through these times and inspire us to not only trust Him more fully, but in having a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, we are freed from the doubt that pervades our society.  Remember at the beginning of the movie of Facing the Giants where Brock when hearing about the loss of one of the top players ‘doubted the potential and possibilities of the team’, then became a champion of belief after the ‘death crawl’.  Only after having true trust, faith and hope with what he could not see and the relationship with His Lord and Savior did he enjoy the complete impact upon his life to the fullest.

We are no different here today at Emmanuel.  Three years ago, we as a congregation sat wondering what our future would be.  There was not a full-time Pastor here in the pulpit or parsonage.  The relationship between Emmanuel and the ELCA was tenuous at best.  Attendance was down, morale was down and doubt of keeping the doors open and the church going was hovering in, over and throughout the congregation.
But today, three short years later, Emmanuel in trust, faith and hope has joined Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, called and funded successfully a full-time pastor, made capital improvements by adding a handicapped accessible bathroom, painting the fellowship hall, offering the community a free Films of Faith and we have some great plans for the future of the church.  All of this in one sense is like the end of a movie, where we have in trust and relationship with Jesus Christ reaped the harvest intended for Emmanuel.  This is why we can come today and in true Thanksgiving thank God for His abiding with us during this journey.  God has been and continues to be active with and among each of us today and we with Thankful hearts, hands and voices can share with one another the bountiful feast He offers us, not only of turkey and all the fixings down stairs, but of the Holy Supper we are about to receive around the Altar of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our receipt of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood not only fulfills the promise God made to us in our baptism, but Jesus Body and Blood are meant to strengthen us for the journey of life we are on and enable us to give God true Thanks and Praise.  In Facing the Giants at the end of the movie after the State Title win, Coach Taylor came home and was told he had made the team.  No longer was it a matter of only being a coach, a mentor or about to become a father, Coach Taylor understood giving God thanks and praise for the gifts of his life was not commanded, but his greatest opportunity.  Remember the mantra of the team, praise and thank God when they win and praise and thank God when they lost.  We to here at Emmanuel have this opportunity as well.  Let’s join together and praise and thank God, not only for what has been loss in our lives and our church, but truly come together on bended knee and praise and thank God for the blessings He has given each of us today.  For this is the promise He fulfills for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel offering our praise and thanks this morning especially for the gift of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ for all of us saints.  AMEN.
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