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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sermon 05202012 Sunday After the Ascension

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 has risen and ascended to the Father, Alleluia!  Jesus Christ, 40 Days after Your resurrection, You ascended to Heaven.  And the disciples are alone.  But You promised them and us the coming of the Holy Spirit.  May we look for the coming of the Holy Spirit to testify about You Jesus Christ and empower us to testify by His Words placed in our lips, on our hearts and for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Jesus Christ ascended to the Father and the Spirit of Truth will testify about Him!  For Jesus Christ is risen and ascended indeed Alleluia!

In the movie Iron Man 2 when Tony Stark is celebrating his birthday, Lt. Col. Rhodes puts on one of the Iron Man suits.  As ‘Rhody’ tries to get Tony to power down and settle down, one can see that getting used to the powers of the suits rockets and thrusters is a challenge for the Air Force Officer.

Just as Lt. Col. Rhodes is a little shaky in the Iron Man suit, the disciples from this mornings readings are certainly unsure with Jesus telling them what will occur.  Remember in the sequence of events these readings occur chronologically before Jesus Christ crucifixion, but are used after in our lectionary to remind we the readers of today of Jesus telling us exactly what would happen.  Hence it is understandable that the disciples are a little off kilter.  When Jesus is speaking to them as our text indicates, Jesus is speaking so that “you [that is the disciples and us today] may be kept from stumbling”.  Like all of us sitting in the pews 2000 years later the disciples had a faith that needed bolstering.  Jesus Christ as we celebrated on Thursday would ascend to the Father 40 days after His resurrection and as the consummate teacher, leader and friend that Jesus was He was preparing them for what was to come, Jesus knew the future that the disciples would stumble and wanted to empower them to be ready.

As we heard Thursday on Ascension, Jesus in returning to the Father fulfilled His mission and role here on earth in the plan of salvation.  In returning to the Father, Jesus Christ as we confess in the Creed, sits at the right hand of the Father.  Jesus Christ key role here on earth of fulfilling the plan of salvation with His birth in the manger in Bethlehem, turning water into wine in Cana, walking on the Sea of Galilee, healing the sick, the blind and the lame and teaching His disciples what the Kingdom of God truly is like and how He, the Son of God must suffer, die, be buried and rise again on the third day in order for all of us to be with Him in His Kingdom.  This plan of salvation Jesus Christ fulfilled and in His ascension Jesus Christ promised a gift to the disciples and to us today.

Jesus Christ promised that the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit would come.  Unlike the promises that will be made by the politicians this year hoping to be elected to office, Jesus Christ fulfills His promises.  Jesus Christ in going to the Father will with the Father send the Holy Spirit to us to guide us.  The Holy Spirit’s job is to call, gather and enlighten us in the true Christian faith.  The disciples who had run away when Jesus was taken into custody and cowered behind the closed doors after His death, were promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower them.  They like we today are promised the Gift of the Holy Spirit in, through and with the water and Word of Baptism where we have the sign and seal of the Holy Spirit for the promises of life and salvation found in Jesus life, death and resurrection that we have been baptized into.

With our baptism, we also are empowered by the Holy Spirit to testify about Jesus Christ.  One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we as Lutherans understand less than most is how the Holy Spirit works in each of us.  Yes, the Holy Spirit calls, gathers and sanctifies us and keeps us in the one true faith, but another and sometimes evangelistic gift of the Holy Spirit is how we share Jesus Christ with one another.  In our daily lives there are times where God places people in our paths that we have the opportunity to tell them about Jesus Christ.  As Lutherans we sometimes shy away from this opportunity, because it doesn’t feel right.  We are a very introverted part of the body of Christ.  But by and through the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments we receive today we are empowered to share our faith in action and deed and tell others what Jesus Christ has done for all of mankind on the cross of Calvary.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives enabling each of us in our own unique way to share our own personal faith in Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection for all mankind.  One of the greatest examples of this is how one man took a stand for the spread of the salvation message.  Nearly 500 years ago, in Europe the princes of the time and the church had ultimate power.  If a country changed monarchs, the religion of the people would change with the monarch, unlike here in America where we have the freedom of religion.  But one man challenged the churches authority of his time because of the abuses that were occurring.  You see Martin Luther, whom our church is named after, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit, stood up to the Pope and attempted to reform the church.  Martin Luther with the words, “Here I stand” redefined, renewed and reformed the church and by the power of the Holy Spirit in his life set the world free to share and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all of mankind.  In by and through the Holy Spirit and the Holy Supper we are about to receive we here today are also set free to share the message of salvation for all of mankind.  Because the Holy Spirit empowers us to proclaim that Jesus Christ died for all of mankind, including all of us gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
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