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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bulletin Inserts for the Gesima season |

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sermon 01292012 Transfiguration 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!  Lord Jesus Christ, on the mount of Transfiguration Peter, James and John beheld Your divine glory.  This was to confirm for them and us that You had to go to Jerusalem to die for our sins.  May we begin to prepare our hearts as we prepare for our Lenten journey to survey the wondrous Cross, not as an end, but the beginning of our relationship with You.  For You came to save us from our sins and Your transfiguration confirms the divine plan of salvation for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

After Michele and I were married, there was a time where movies played an important part in our entertainment.  One of the trilogies that we thoroughly enjoyed was the “Lord of the Rings” adventures of Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn and the other hobbits from the Shire and other characters of Middle Earth.  One scene from the Two Towers is especially poignant for this morning.  Gandalf, whom everyone had thought had died fighting a Balrog in Mount Doom, suddenly appears in the Forest to a few of the company, Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli, that had set off in search of the Hobbits taken by the forces for the Dark Wizard.  When Gandalf appears, he no longer is the Gandalf the Grey, but has transfigured and transformed into Gandalf the White.

So to this morning the story of Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration was not only a stimulus for J.R.R. Tolkien, but was the inspiration for the return of Gandalf.  As we heard, “Jesus Christ took with Him Peter and James, and John…and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  It was not uncommon for Jesus to go to mountains for prayer and communion with God the Father, but in taking Peter, James and John, it probably caused some of Jesus followers to wonder what would occur.  Once on the mountain, probably Mount Tabor, which is East of Nazareth, Jesus “was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light.  For those of you who have been up when the sun rose and see the sun in the distant East rising, Jesus transfiguration wasn’t slow, it was immediate, it was blinding.  Consider if at noon you were to look directly in the sunlight, this is what looking at Jesus would have been like.  Jesus immediately transfigured before them and Peter, James and John beheld the Glorified Body of Jesus Christ.

Then, “Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him [that is Jesus]”.  In this account Matthew inspired by the Holy Spirit, clearly identifies two men that predate him by 1500 and 1000 years respectively.  Moses who had died and Elijah who had been taken up into heaven in a fiery chariot were conversing with Jesus, splendid in white, in His Spiritually Glorified state.

Can you imagine the conversation, the two greatest representatives of the Old Covenant, one having given the Law, the other being the most zealous for the Law, on the eve of the Law’s ultimate fulfillment were speaking to Jesus Christ, the one Whom would fulfill the Law?  Yet what does Peter do, he doesn’t try to ‘hold onto these three figures’, but says, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.  Peter wants these three men to stay and probably wants to ask all kinds of questions and sit at their feet and drink up the wisdom and instruction of all three individuals.

Yet, what occurs, the plans of men to delay the fulfillment of the law is thwarted by none other than God the Father.  In similar fashion to Jesus Baptism that we celebrated earlier this month, “a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!  Just as on the river Jordan where God’s voice Spoke and Jesus was revealed as the Son of God.  Here on the Mount of Transfiguration God reveals to James, Peter and John that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of His promise.  This Jesus Christ Whom they have seen heal the blind, the lepers and the lame, feed the multitudes, teach with authority and explain more explicitly God’s Kingdom and prophecy about His own death and resurrection is revealed as the fulfillment of the prophecy of old.  Jesus Christ in Whom the Father is “well-pleased” is the One Who would complete the plan of salvation.

As soon as God the Father spoke, Peter, James and John Jesus disciples, “fell face down to the ground and were terrified.  In their sight and hearing, they had seen legends of the Old Covenant and heard the Voice of God the Father and some would say out of their wits they were ‘terrified’.  But the Pastoral Shepherd that Jesus was, “came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.  The vision they had just beheld Jesus plainly and clearly says for them not to be afraid of and Jesus commands them, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.

So what can we take away today, 2000 years later?  What gem does God reveal for us today as we celebrate His Transfiguration, the appearance of the Moses and Elijah and the strict command to the disciples to ‘tell no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead’?  The gem we take away is that this same Jesus Who revealed His Glory on Mount Tabor, fulfilled on the Cross of Calvary for you and for me the plan of salvation.  In His one gesture of dying a sacrificial death on the Cross, He made You and I heirs of eternal life.  We no longer are bound by sin, death and the devil and we are transfigured as well in our baptism into His life, death and resurrection. 
This same Jesus Christ Who not moments earlier was in splendid array in garments Whiter than any other transfigures us as well.  Through our baptism with Water and Word, we, the collective church of Emmanuel Lutheran are transfigured and made in the image of God.  Though we still live in earthly attire, though we are conceived in sin, though we are both saints and sinners as Martin Luther would attest, we have been through the Blood of the Lamb transfigured by Jesus Christ.  We are a new creation that waits now for God’s calling to come home to be with Him in His Kingdom.  Our transfiguration is an accomplished fact and because Jesus has been raised from the dead, we now are empowered to tell others what He has done for each of us through Water and Word for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sermon 01222012 Third Sunday After Epiphany

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, the power of Your Word is immeasurable, whether it is healing, rebuking of the wind or sending away a Centurion for whom You healed His servant.  May we as we hear Your word spoken to our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit turn and return us to Your care and affirm our need and desire to hear Your Word in preaching, teaching and forgiveness offered for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

This morning at the conclusion to the Epistle Lesson and in preparation for the Holy Gospel, we sang an acclamation.  Hear again, what was sung:

Alleluia, Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the Words of Eternal Life!!  ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

This Gospel Acclamation sung exclusively in preparation for the proclamation of the Gospel is sung in every season except for “Lent”, due to the use of the Alleluia.  And is appropriate for us this morning, especially for the lesson we hear of the leper being cleansed and the great faith of the Centurion.

It is clear from the text that Jesus has just come down from the mountain, most likely having been praying and having communion with His Father in heaven.  For Jesus ministry required His absolute best and prayer allowed Him to focus and be refreshed for the demands of the people.  And here the people see Jesus and swarm Him, because of His power and teaching with an authority unheard of or unseen for a long while.

But what happens, but a leper, the despised of the world, the outcast of the society comes to Jesus.  For this leper, the question we sang, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” is answered in his coming to Jesus Christ to “make him clean”.  But the leper says, only “if You [that is Jesus Christ] are willing”.  Thus with a faith in the Word and Power of Jesus Christ, Jesus unlike the crowds who would not even be in the same house, synagogue or bath as this leper, “stretches out His hand and touches him, saying “I am willing; be cleansed.  Jesus Christ, Word of God incarnate reached out and touched an outcast and healed this man of his leprosy and restored him in mind, spirit and especially body where he was now clean and no longer outcast by society.

By Jesus Christ acclamation, He willed that this man no longer be outcast, but be cleansed and restored.  What does Jesus require?  For the leper to “go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” And thus fulfill the Old Testament law and not give the legalists or those who wanted to find fault with Jesus any ammunition or cause to question His going against the Levitical Law.

Then Jesus encounters the Centurion entering Capernaum.  And Jesus is moved by the faith of the Centurion who only asks “just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For the faith shown by the Centurion in the power of Jesus Word, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel  For the Centurion looks with the eyes of faith and sees and knows what will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

These two examples, the leper and the Centurion reveal not only the power of Jesus Word, but the depth of faith by two vastly different individuals.  The leper was outcast by society and the Centurion, who was a career soldier, model for us today what true faith really is.

What if we had the faith of the leper and the Centurion?  Yes, we don’t have a disease that our society relegates us to the outskirts of the city, or are an occupying force from the Roman authority.  But we today live with something much worse.  We are sinful creatures, conceived in sin.  The old Catechism acronym that some of you might remember is very true, “What does SINS mean?”  We are Sinners in need of a Savior.  And this is exactly what the leper and the Centurion understood clearly and model for us today.

For our Savior, Jesus Christ came down from the mountain and cleansed a leper and He came down from heaven and offers us the forgiveness of sins.  In fulfilling the plan of salvation, Jesus Christ offers us the forgiveness of sins that takes away our sin and we no longer are sinners in God’s eyes.  We through the blood of the lamb are redeemed and freed from the power of sin, death and the devil and are set free.  The power of Jesus Christ Word declared to us in the forgiveness of sins frees us and through the Waters of Baptism we now put on our garments of salvation offered for each and every one of us, because of Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary.  And the example of the leper and the Centurion enable us to sing boldly the acclamation “Alleluia, Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the Words of Eternal Life!!  ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!”  For Jesus Christ came to set us free and proclaim to us and the World the Words of Eternal life for all of us saints, especially we who gather here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sermon 01152012 2nd Sunday After Epiphany

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, at the wedding feast in Cana, Your mother pressed You to ‘fix’ the situation.  In obedience to Your mother You performed the first of many miracles, but it was not just a miracle, but a revelation of Your glory for Your people.  May we who partake of Your precious Body and Blood this morning receive, the miracle of Your presence in, with and under the Bread and Wine and receive the greatest gift of Your Precious Body and Blood and Eternal Life for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

This past Sunday, the football game between the Denver Bronco’s and the Pittsburgh Steelers was for some an opportunity to gloat.  When the game finally ended, we know the outcome, the Steelers season had come to an end.  Some claimed it was ‘destiny’, others claimed it was a miracle.  The fact remains, Denver would continue playing in hopes of making it to the Super Bowl and the possibility of earning the coveted ring.  Interestingly the man who led the Bronco’s is a man of faith, we know as Tim Tebow.

In this morning’s Gospel lesson, another man of great faith, Jesus Christ, is not known in Cana of Galilee and is currently without a target on His back from the Scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus is attending a wedding with His mother.  What occurs, but Mary, enlists Jesus in service to help the family because they, the family and friends, have ‘drunk’ all the wine that had been acquired for the marriage banquet.  This is one of the greatest tragedies of a family that is not prepared at the celebration of a marriage.  Unlike the game last Sunday, Jesus mother knew of the potential of Jesus, and “said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” ”  With the faith not only of a mother, but a believer who had carried Him in her womb and travelled to Jerusalem to dedicate Him, fled for Egypt for sanctuary and safety and returned to Nazareth, Mary believed in Jesus.  What does occur, but a miracle, the first recorded divine act of Jesus Christ.  Jesus instructs the servants to fill the jars with water and then draw a drink out to take to the headwaiter.

When I was in Israel in Cana of Galilee there is a church that has been built on the site of this historic first miracle of Jesus.  In an alcove a jar, similar to the one used in Jesus day sits and one cannot but feel a connection with Jesus Christ Who walked those very streets over 2000 years ago.

This morning we partake not of a miracle that is as tangible as water being turned into wine, but we partake of a greater miracle.  The miracle we partake of is our partaking of the precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  When the words of institution are spoken, God reaches down from heaven and in, with, through and under the earthly elements of bread and wine, reveals the greatest miracle we are enabled to see today.  No longer is it just bread and wine, it becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, broken and shed for each and every one of us for the forgiveness of sins.  Unlike with the miracle of Cana in Galilee, we sit on the front row and are called to be ‘active participants’ of the miracle of the gift of eternal life for all of us.

Yet, what is our response?  We know from the Gospel, the response of the headwaiter who tasted the Wine, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.  So to with the feast we receive this morning, what is your response?  How do you receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?  Will you continue as if nothing changes?  Or will you after having been fed by Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood, which gives the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, be changed, be transformed or be renewed for service in God’s Kingdom?

Just as Jesus first miracle revealed His power and possibilities of the future of His ministry, we as well have the opportunity as well in the service of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I ask you now as you come forward this morning to receive the miracle of Jesus Christ in the Bread and Wine as the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to work in God’s Kingdom and be active participants here at Emmanuel.  If you don’t know how God can use you, whether you are 7 or 77, I would like to walk with you down the path of discernment and let God through the work of the Holy Spirit mold and shape you to be the child of God that you are destined to become.  You could be a greeter, reader, usher, coffee host, council member, board member or any capacity you feel led to serve in, but more importantly, God through His precious Body and Blood, broken and shed for you feeds you for His service in His Kingdom here at Emmanuel.  It is my prayer that we can do this together and through the power of the miracle of Jesus precious Body and Blood transform our lives our ministry and our church into the divine work that God has in store for us here in Goodland, KS, for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sermon 01122012 Funeral Maurice Leeland 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 brother in Christ Maurice.  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 Maurice, we are sure of the certain promise You made to us in our baptism where You signed, sealed and delivered the promise that in being baptized into Your death we are certainly raised with You in Your resurrection.  Comfort us with this thought and let the sign made over Maurice’s head and heart in baptism and the salve of Your Gospel message surround us so we may hear clearly the Gospel message You proclaimed to Maurice on the day of his baptism and which You proclaim here today in truth, purity and peace to Your saints, especially the saints of his family and all of us gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

My daughter Sarah from birth has been an inquisitive child and as her parents Michele and I wanted to teach her some sign language since babies don’t develop their speech for a few years.  So we bought the books that taught simple sign language so we could more easily communicate.  One of the first signs we started with was the simple sign for ‘more’.  Sarah picked up on this rather easily and even now, as she is almost three she continues with the sign of more when we have some of her favorites like candy, fizzy water or her all-time favorite of a caffeinated drink whether soda, tea or even coffee.

This morning we come to say goodbye to Maurice while still grappling with our own mortality.  Maurice, like Sarah knew some signs as well, whether it was as a player on the baseball diamond, as coach on third base sending signals to hitters or runners on base to steal for second or third, while playing for the American Legion, or even in fast pitch softball with Gerry and Ron, Maurice understood the signs.  Maurice even knew the calls of the caller in square dancing and could maneuver his lifelong partner Irene on the dance floor with grace and elegance, whether it was Western Square dancing or the polka.  And playing cards, whether at home with the kids or at Pecks on Friday night.  Morris could read and give the right signs.

Not only from his youth on the baseball field but as a soldier in World War II, Maurice unit the 5th Armored Division had a sign.  They were known as the “V” division, or “Victory Division”.  And while fighting in World War II in Europe the 5th Armored Division liberated France, Belgium and Germany and Maurice served his country with honor and distinction as tank commander and turret gunner even quickly touring Paris as seen through the periscope of his turret. 

This morning we heard in our Old Testament lesson from Isaiah the promises of what the Spirit of God would do.  In Maurice’s life, he and those he fought with in the Army “proclaimed the liberty to the captives and freed the prisoners” and gave the French and us the opportunities we have today to live in a land of freedom.  But Isaiah clearly says for Maurice and us today that this occurs “because the Lord has anointed me” and this anointing took place on the day of Maurice’s baptism.

On that day December 11, 1949, Maurice in and through the waters of Baptism, was redeemed by God through the blood of the lamb and anointed with the Holy Spirit and given a “mantle of praise”.  Water intimately connected with Word washed Maurice and gave him the gift of eternal life.  He was now “clothed with garments of salvation” in his baptismal glory.  And in his life with his wife Irene would be blessed as postman delivering the mail, as baseball coach and worshiping his Lord and Savior, here at Emmanuel.

Throughout his life, God continued to fulfill the promise of David the Psalmist and prepared for Maurice “a table” where God fed Maurice with His precious Body and Blood and “anointed Maurice head with oil and his cup runneth over”.  God “restoreth his soul and lead him in the paths of righteousness for his names sake”.  And God makes this promise to us today, when we partake of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood, we share not only in the meal, but we share this meal with both Maurice and Irene who now are among the saints of God.

For God’s promise has been fulfilled, Maurice heard the call and headed the sign God made over his head and heart on the day of his baptism and Jesus words, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” is now fulfilled in our sight.  Though the veil of death separates us, God’s promise from Isaiah for Maurice is now a concrete reality, “He has wrapped Maurice with a robe of righteousness”.  And now Maurice in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection can sing with the choirs of angels the fulfillment of David’s Psalm, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  For this morning in God’s house God brings to fulfillment and completion what Jesus Christ has done for Maurice 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 God’s peace which surpasses all human understanding, guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of what Jesus Christ did in Maurice’s life and ours!  AMEN!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sermon 01082012 1st Sunday After Epiphany

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, in the Jordan River, John in order to fulfill all righteousness, baptized You.  But our baptism into Your life death and resurrection imparts to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.  May we embrace our redemption because it is only accomplished by what You completed on the cross of Calvary for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

One of the things that most children experience when they are growing up, is knowing someone who ‘talks big’.  Whether it is my Dad was the best football player or wrestler of the Mustangs, or my Mom is the best cook in the church, or my Dad’s truck is bigger than your Dad’s truck, boasting, which this is, continues to be something that is in our DNA.  We always want to have the biggest and best toys, the best house, the best vehicles or even the best clothes like the Michael Jordan logo or the latest Pioneer hat, jacket or Fontanelle apparel.  And boasting even occurs in the Bible.

In our Gospel lesson this morning, Jesus Christ has come to the Jordan to receive the greatest gift from John the Baptist.  In order to fulfill all righteousness, Jesus asks John to allow Him to be baptized by him in the Jordan.  Rewind 1480 years and we are reminded that Joshua and the people of Israel came to the same river Jordan and crossed it, on dry ground.  God stopped the river’s flow in order to allow the Ark of the Covenant and the people of Israel to pass through the Jordan on dry ground. 

This same river now we hear, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ being baptized in by John the Baptist, by the one who ‘prepared the way for the Lord’ and told the people, ‘make your paths straight’.  John is now baptizing Jesus Christ to fulfill all righteousness.  And what occurs, God Himself boasts about His own Son saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  And it was not only boasting by the Father’s voice, but the presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove that descended and lighted upon Jesus Christ head.  In this one moment, the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit was manifest for all to see, hear and experience.

But, why is the river Jordan so important for us today in Western Kansas?  Of what significance is God’s boasting of His Son’s baptism in the Jordan River for us today?  Why should the words, righteousness, sanctification and redemption take special meaning for us today?

The reason is that Jesus baptism by John in the Jordan, just as His circumcision in the temple in Jerusalem that we heard about last week was to fulfill the law for each and every one of us.  In and through our baptism into Jesus Christ, life, death and resurrection we have been sanctified by the blood of the lamb and our redemption draws nearer and closer to each of us.  By our being baptized in the name of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we have been claimed and made His through the Water connected with Word and our weakness of sin which we have been conceived in has been made a strength through the transformation in us and for us of what occurred in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for all of mankind.

Though we come here to Emmanuel and more often than not, just go through the motions of church, reading the bulletin, singing the songs and making ourselves look to others like we are Christian on the outside, Jesus Christ in entering our lives with the gift of faith in baptism made us His own.  We no longer are mere spectators, but God calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies us through the Work of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.  God is calling us to action, not reaction, but proactive action to be His followers in our daily lives.  We are empowered by the Water and Word and made righteous before God, sanctified by the Work of the Holy Spirit and redeemed from sin, death and the devil, because of what Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary.

The reminder for us this morning is that we have a history with the river Jordan, not only with Joshua and the people of Israel who walked through the water being held back, but also and especially with Jesus Christ Who was baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness.  When we wash our face in the morning, remember our baptism and recall God’s saving act for each of us when Water and Word intimately connected gave us the gift of faith, we recall, reclaim and renew the life of Christ that resides in each of us.  And being renewed with our daily remembrance of our baptism we are reminded that God can say the same of us who have been baptized into Jesus Christ that He is well pleased with us.  For Jesus came into this World to save all of mankind, especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sermon 01062012 Epiphany

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 heralds the end of the Christmas season where we celebrate the coming of the Three Wise Men.  May our hearts be overjoyed that again we have against the devil come again to hear Your Word preached and proclaimed in its purity.  For we know Your Word will not return without accomplishing Your purpose and Your purpose is the proclamation of the saving message of the Gospel for all mankind, especially we Your saints gathered here at Emmanuel, this Epiphany night.  AMEN.
On Epiphany 1532, Martin Luther preached a sermon with Matthew 2:1-12 as the text.  Hear a quote from that sermon:
“All the cunning of the devil is exercised in trying to tear us away from the Word.  If in the external preaching he does not succeed in making people unwilling to hear the Word, yet he succeeds in the heart by persuading them not to cling to it.”
Even nearly 500 years ago the symptom we face daily of not coming to hear the Word of God was persistent and pervasive.  Satan with the cunningness unmatched by any wielded the means and power to ‘tear us away from the Word’ and we here today in Goodland, KS this January 6, 2012 are no different.  Around every bend and every turn, we encounter the draws of our society, our life and our world to pull us away from the proclamation of God’s Word.
Yet, tonight we hear from sacred scripture about three men who enter Jerusalem and find the same disdain for sacred scripture and the prophecies of old.  The three wise men, learned men from the East in the natural sciences thought they would encounter a people who would know who the Savior of the World was and where He would be at.  Their question to Herod of “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” was met with such uncertainty since they were in the capital of Jews that the wise men probably wondered why nobody knew Who or Where the King was.  We know, He wasn’t born in a palace, His entrance into the World was not on satin sheets with hot running maids and a team of doctors.  But the Savior of the World came in a lowly manger because there was no room in the inn.
But tonight three men enter the story of salvation coming from a far to worship the “King of the Jews.”  They bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  They enter into salvations history to offer gifts, but take away the greatest gift of all, being in the presence of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World.  These three men of story and song come to worship the long foretold King.
Tonight we have that same opportunity to Worship the King.  In my office, I have a very small nativity set that I have had set up for most of Advent and Christmas.  One of the traditions that has been passed down for generations is how the Wise men always are on a journey from the beginning of Advent until Epiphany.  So tonight the wise men finally reach the place where the star stopped moving.  Tonight we come to worship the King, and like the wise men we bring our burdens we carry daily, they are not Gold, Frankincense or myrrh, but we like the wise men depart having heard the Word of God in its truth and purity.  For we know Jesus Christ came into this world to bring us salvation for all mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel, this Epiphany night.  AMEN.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sermon 01012012 1st Sunday After Christmas

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.  Your Word has been fulfilled and we have beheld Your Glory in a babe in a manger.  For in finding in the manger the beginning of the fulfillment of the plan of salvation we now can with Simeon ask that You let us depart in peace according to Your will.  For Your coming into the World was for all of mankind, including we saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

It is interesting that this morning, January 1, 2012 the beginning of the new year we gather to celebrate the dedication of a babe in the temple in Jerusalem.  Seven days ago, we gathered and heard the celebrated Christmas story of Luke and opened Christmas gifts, ate turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and all the fixings.  Yet now, we come to celebrate the dedication of a child according to the “Law of Moses”.

In the temple Mary and Joseph meet a man named Simeon, who is a devout and righteous man, upon whom the Holy Spirit rested.  Being led by the Holy Spirit to come at the same time as Jesus parents, Simeon had been promised “not to see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”.  And now is fulfilled the promise of God to Simeon.  In his arms he holds the Messiah, Jesus Christ!  For me as Pastor, when I hold children that God has used me as towel holder to baptize, I can begin to understand Simeon’s joy in beholding the Gift from God of a child.

Yet this was not any child, this was the Messiah, the Christ.  We heard Simeon’s ballad we know as the Nunc Dimittis or “Song of Simeon”.  This canticle used in the liturgy is a result of the reformation and its influence upon the liturgical canticles and songs used in worship.  What is imparted, besought and received is a peace that Simeon receives in holding the long foretold Christ Child.  For the words, “mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” apply clearly to Simeon’s life and now the fulfillment of the scriptures is taking place.

But what does that matter for us today here in Goodland, KS, with snow on the ground, a cold wind blowing off the prairies and now the first day of 2012?  What matters is that the peace that Simeon felt at holding the Messiah we can feel as well.  This canticle is used most often during the Vespers service at the end of the service.  It is to be a stark reminder for us of the peace that God gives to us through the birth of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  In the lowly manger, because there was no room in the inn, Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ Who came into a world of His making to save and redeem mankind from sin, death and the devil.  In this one act the plan of salvation came into action and we now are partakers of it through our partaking of His precious body and blood.  As we eat His Body and drink His Blood the peace that Simeon felt is given to us as partakers of eternal life.
We celebrate the Glory, Honor and praise of Jesus Christ as we remember His being brought to the Temple in Jerusalem in fulfillment of the Law of Moses.  Yet, in His birth, being brought to the temple and His sacrificial death on the cross for all of us on Calvary, Jesus Christ sets us free and gives us the greatest peace we could ever hope to feel, a peace that Simeon felt when He saw, held and sang his canticle of praise.  May we celebrate with Simeon, Mary and Joseph and understand that this peace is given to all people, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel on this January 1, 2012.  AMEN.
//trial script