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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sermon 02052012 Septuagesima 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!  Heavenly Father, when You told Moses to lead Your people out of Egypt, they couldn’t prepare for the trip.  You took them into the Wilderness and they complained that they were thirsty.  Today, we to long for Your guidance in our plans for Emmanuel.  We yearn for Your divine presence to quench our thirst and enlighten us and enable us to fulfill Your plan here among all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

This morning we begin a short 3 part series entitled, “What is God’s Plan here at Emmanuel?”  Please understand my reason for embarking on this series is not to preach on, what ‘I think’ we should do.  My intention is for us to collectively ask God to guide us through His Word, the scriptures and to enlighten each of us as we begin to prepare for our 90th year celebration in December and look back how God has blessed Emmanuel.  It is also my prayer that the scriptures will help us dialogue and lay claim to God’s plan today and enable us to discern the future as a congregation in association with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.

In our text this morning we heard about the “congregation of the sons of Israel” who had “journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord”.  These people God had sent Moses to lead out of Egypt and be freed from the bondage of Pharaoh.  They are the same ones that God had allowed to cross the Red Sea on dry land and then ‘swallowed up’ Pharaoh’s army that was in their pursuit.  But now, these same people God had delivered from the hand and bondage of Pharaoh “quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.””

The Israelite nation was thirsty, they had been marching for days and were extremely thirsty.  Just like here in Goodland, where water is a precious commodity, the people God had just freed were thirsty and needed water and Moses, their leader was the person they were ready to quarrel with.  But Moses says, your beef isn’t with me, its with God, but “why do you tempt the Lord”?  The God who delivered you from the hands of Pharaoh, defeated the army that came to take you back to slavery, why would He allow you to go thirsty?  Would God not provide for them?  What was the root of the problem, was it ‘lack of water’ or was it ‘doubt in the merciful presence of God’?

So what does Moses do, but go to God and say, “What shall I do to this people?  A little more and they will stone me.  Moses feared for his life and is asking God for deliverance.  Is it a fear for his own safety?  Probably it is.  But it also is a form of faith by Moses in God that He would provide.  What the answer would be, Moses didn’t know, but he had faith that God would provide.

The providence of God is revealed when “the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.  Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”  In this passage God affirms the miracle He will perform through Moses of striking the rock for the people of Israel.  The people would be the witness to the miracle God would provide in the water for them to drink.  But fulfilling their thirst is only one part, Moses to remind the people names the place as a reminder of the people’s doubt.  The names given indicate what the people had done, for Massah means temptation and Meribah is strife, so the miracle that Moses performed would forever be linked and be an example of warning during both the Old Testament and New Testament times of the people’s doubt of God’s presence and providing for the Israelite people.

Easily and sincerely we here at Emmanuel could say we have not been freed from bondage from a tyrannical national leader, nor have we travelled into the wilderness only to be thirsty.  Yet, it could be said this story may be a metaphor for Emmanuel!  The situation is not identical, but our doubt during the last few years of the direction of Emmanuel and wondering if God really is present, active and working in, with and through us.  For we have thirsted for God to ‘perform a miracle’ and ‘give us a drink’.  For Emmanuel the story of the people of Israel can inspire us to ask the question, “What is God’s Plan for Emmanuel?”  As I said earlier, I am not going to give my opinion, but I will provide some insight from this story.

God tells this story to highlight for us today our similar state of wondering about His presence with us here in Goodland, KS.  Though we are fallen creatures, just as the Israelite people were, the opportunity is for us to in faith seek God, not to stone the leader like Moses or the Pastor, but to discern the direction God is leading us.  Yes we have been thirsty, but throughout the ministry of Emmanuel, God provided the Word and Sacrament for us to be fed by.  God provided for us His only Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  As we heard the Word of God and ate His Body and drank His Blood as we do this morning, God proves His presence by providing for our physical and spiritual needs.  God in and through His Word and this Meal which is a foretaste of the Feast to come feeds us and works the greatest miracle of His presence in, with and under this Bread and Wine that now is His precious Body and Blood.  We have partaken of this meal to feed and nourish us and as Jesus Himself said to the woman at the well, to be the gift of Eternal life, the Well Spring that will never go dry. Thus, as we are fed the promise of Word and Sacrament God is present with us and in us and transforms us on a daily basis.  May God’s precious gift of His Body and Blood nourish and feed us just as the water did for the Israelite nation as we discern where and what God wants us saints at Emmanuel to do to fulfill His Plan for all of Emmanuel.  AMEN.
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