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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sermon 06242012 Third 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, Lord God Heavenly Father!  Throughout the world and even here in Goodland Kansas there are many people who are lost.  These people we sometimes meet at Wal-Mart, driving down the street, swimming at the pool or even in line at the elevator or McDonald’s.  God use us to not let these people continue to be lost, but be found by the Gospel message.  Enable each of us to proclaim and live the life of faith and the Gospel so they may be found by the Gospel message of what Jesus Christ has done for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

This past week I had the opportunity to attend Confirmation Camp with four of our confirmation students, Lily Mays who was confirmed earlier this year, Simon Bassett, Kasey Stramel and Kate Zelfer.  In the past our confirmation kids would go to Sky Ranch outside of Fort Collins, CO for a week of experiencing God high atop the mountains.  However, earlier this month a lightning strike started one of the worst wildfires in Colorado’s history, known as the High Park Fire.  As a direct result of the fire and for the safety of the Sky Ranch staff and visitors, the entire camp was evacuated two weeks ago.  So this past week Sky Ranch has been in exile and held at Highlands Presbyterian Camp in Allenspark, CO.

To say the least the staff of Sky Ranch began the evacuation experience being ‘lost’ like the sheep and the coins from our Gospel lesson this morning.  In the face of adversity of only having minutes to pack and evacuate, some Sky Ranch counselors and staff only escaped with the clothes on their backs, were forced to leave all their personal belongings, identification, vehicles and all their worldly possessions at camp because there was no time for them to pack.  Every counselor and staff members main focus was the safety and preparation and packing of and for the kids like Simon, Kasey, Lily and Kate and insuring all of their belongings were taken down the mountain.

And so this week the staff has experienced in an intense way what being lost is really like.  Where they had trained in preparation for the summer season, the equipment used, the familiar surroundings was gone because of the fire and their evacuation.  But out of adversity the Gospel message of Jesus Christ came just as the theme for the summer is, “Grace” in the form of a place to be welcomed and called home.  Highlands Presbyterian Camp gave the greatest gift of Grace in welcoming Sky Ranch and Lily, Simon, Kate and Kasey with welcome arms and fulfilled what we heard about here at Emmanuel during our Vacation Bible School.  The theme for both the week at Confirmation Camp and our Vacation Bible School was GRACE meaning, “Giving and Receiving the Assurance of Christ Everyday” and all of us who attended camp experienced God’s grace throughout the week.

Every day we learned more about the GRACE of God as a Gift, Our receipt of it, how it changes us and how we are free to give it away every day to everyone we meet.  We also felt the grace offered by Highlands and living out the message of grace and salvation for a group who were lost and had lost our home. 

But the greatest impact was on Thursday night.  For the final worship at Highlands, all of the campers from Highlands Presbyterian and Sky Ranch joined our hearts our souls and our voices together to like our Gospel lesson says to rejoice.  Ironically as part of the worship two of the small groups from Highlands performed skits as an illustration for our worship.  And the Gospel lesson we heard proclaimed today were the skits that were performed.  Clearly God’s message as portrayed by the children took on new meaning for me and all of the campers and staff.  With both the parable of the lost coins and the parable of the lost sheep all of us who worshiped didn’t experience the parables in the same way they were told by Jesus, but we the ‘lost’ who were welcomed by Highland’s celebrated the greatest gift given by Jesus Christ.  We rejoiced that our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit sent Jesus Christ into this world to save all of us lost creatures.  And we the lost have been found and now are enabled to rejoice and share the message of salvation of what Jesus Christ did for all of us.
To be one of the lost is for some an unimaginable thing, but clearly the experience that Sky Ranch and Highland’s has experienced will clearly change our perspective.  That is exactly what this Gospel is trying to do, change our perspective.  Kate, Simon, Kasey and Lily and I experienced in a new way what God’s grace is all about.  We left here Sunday and had an experience with the lost counselors of Sky Ranch and were welcomed at Highlands and experienced the greatest manifestation of the gift of salvation of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with one another.  And we rejoiced with everyone, for we were lost, but now have been found.  For the Gospel was clearly lived, shared and celebrated, not because, but in spite of the High Park fire and the witness we experienced is God’s grace in action with our theme “Giving and Receiving the Assurance of Christ Everyday”. For Sky Ranch and we the saints here at Emmanuel have the opportunity to find the lost, give and receive the grace of Christ because Jesus Christ freely died for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sermon 06172012 2nd 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, Gracious God, You have prepared a banquet for we Your servants.  But we make excuses why we cannot attend.  Yet, You know our excuses are a result of sin in our lives where we are looking out for ourselves and seeking worldly fame and glory and not honoring You with our hearts.  Enable us to respond in faith as Your called saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Recently I was watching the first of the Harry Potter movies where Harry was receiving an invitation to Hogwarts.  If you have seen the movie you remember that Harry’s Uncle uses any means necessary to prevent Harry from receiving the invitation to come to the greatest school of wizardry.  From nailing the mail slot closed to burning the letters in the fireplace to going to a remote deserted house to prevent Harry from receiving the coveted invitation.

Our Gospel this morning unlike the response of Harry tells of the people who were to busy with the tasks of man to attend a banquet put on by the master even though they had received an invitation.  What did the people do who had received the invitation they “began to make excuses.”  Whether it was new land or animals for working the fields, a recent marriage or any number of excuses, this enraged the master who was giving the banquet.  So the master determines to call in the poor and crippled, the blind and lame and anyone who would not normally receive an invitation to this banquet.  In desperation the master wants to compel the people to come so his house will be filled with laughter, joy and celebration.

But what of those who had received the invitation first and rejected it, Jesus says it clearly, “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my dinner.”  This parable is told for three reasons, to convict, to convince and to change.

This parable is told to convict each of us here this morning.  We are the people who make excuses why we won’t come to hear and take part in the banquet that Jesus Christ offers us around His table like this morning.  We are the people who sometimes put our life, our wallet and our prosperity in front of all the blessings that God promises to and for us.  We are not unlike the new land owner checking our fields or irrigation wells.  We are not unlike the new owner of the oxen, but today it is John Deere, Case, New Holland or Massey Furgeson or Ford, GMC or Dodge trucks.  We are not unlike the newly married saying our vacation is more important than receiving Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood.  We are rightly convicted because we are sinful creatures, conceived in sin and concerned only with the image that others see and not what God wants to give us.

Jesus told this parable to His disciples to convince them that the gifts of God are better and greater than anything they could imagine.  Jesus wanted to convince the disciples that their view did not need to be on the things of this world, like land, oxen or image, but on the greater gift in the banquet.  Jesus was trying to convince them and us today that we can receive and be blessed beyond our wildest dreams when we willingly listen and heed His call to us.  Jesus Christ through His own death on the cross made this a reality for all of mankind.  With the words, “It is finished” the plan of salvation was complete and we through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection are grafted into the greatest gift our world has, eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Ultimately though we are convicted in our hearts and convinced that something needs to occur, we, you and I through the power of the Holy Spirit are the only ones who can change our own decisions.  We have to change our attitudes, our priorities and our focus from being inward and upon ourselves to being focused on others and God.  We through and by the power of the Holy Spirit are the only ones who can change and make God a priority and not the things of man that will pass away.
This past week our Vacation Bible School learned clearly about Grace and what it is and what it really means.  The kids learned very plainly that God offers us grace beyond measure even though we may not deserve it.  God through the grace offered to each of us through Jesus Christ sacrificial death on the Cross of Calvary, gives us eternal life and this not only means Jesus conviction for our sin, but is the means by which we can be convinced of God’s great love for each of us.  And in, through and by the Holy Spirit be changed children of God enabled to understand that God did this through Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection for all of mankind, including all the children in Vacation Bible School and all of us saints gathered here this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sermon 06102012 1st 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, Gracious God, You inspired Moses and the prophets with Your Holy Spirit and this morning we hear they are enough to hear to prevent our being in agony in the flame.  Your word is truth and when we trust in You and what Moses and the prophets prophesied about the Son of God, our salvation is assured.  For we want to be like Lazarus and be comforted when we enter into Your kingdom, because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

When I first began teaching Lutheranism 101, I asked a question that caused everyone to do a double take.  I asked, ‘Are you in or of the world?’  At first glance this question would easily be answered, ‘of course, I am in the world.’  But like an onion, peel a layer back and this question is not asking about the physical location, but more as a Christian, ‘do you believe in the world’s values and beliefs and what is important?’

Ironically in our Gospel lesson this morning the story of the rich man and Lazarus begs the question for all of us, ‘are we in or of the world?’  Lazarus lived in the world.  He was a poor man who laid at the gate of the rich man.  Dogs licked Lazarus wounds and sores, while the rich man ate extravagantly and dressed in purple and fine linen which is the color of royalty.  The rich man was both ‘in the world’ and ‘of the world’, but Lazarus was ‘in the world’, but not ‘of the world’.  They both died and Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man went to Hades also known as “HELL”.  The rich man was in torment in a dry place where his tongue was in agony and flame.  But why did the rich man want to have some relief?  Why this was happening to him since his life had been so good and he was never in need?  But now all he wanted was a small measure of relief.  Once the rich man understands there will be no relief in Hell, he wants to warn his brothers, but Abraham says, your brothers have Moses and the prophets, that is enough.  And the rich man counters, ‘they like me won’t listen’, but ‘send someone from the dead to warn them, then they will repent’.  However, Abraham knows, ‘even if someone rises from the dead’ the rich man’s brothers will not believe.

This story told by Jesus is meant for us today.  We hear the lessons from the Old Testament and New Testament in our worship service.  We confess our sins and we do our time here at church and we like the rich man expect to enter into the pearly gates of heaven.  But the sad reality is we like the rich man who rested on his laurels and looked only after himself and cared for no one else will reap what we sow.  Moses and the prophets are clear, Jesus Christ came into this world in order that we might be saved through Him.

We Christians today are called to live ‘in the world’, but not to be ‘of the world’.  We like Abraham to the rich man are called to trust and believe in Moses and the prophets and what they proclaimed.  We are called by name in our baptism to be active participants in the world in which we live, not having the morals and values of the world.  We are called to hold each other accountable and responsible for our actions as children of our heavenly Father.  But we are also called to not be ‘of the world’, but like Lazarus live ‘in the world’.

Our Epistle says it so well, we know ‘God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him’.  And the promise God makes to and for each of us in our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection is that in abiding in God, “love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because He is, so also are we in this world”.  We like Lazarus are not ‘of this world’, we are Christians called by name by God, baptized into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection and made heirs of eternal life are set free from the bonds of the devil.  We are not bound by sin, death, the devil, hell and damnation.  Jesus Christ set us free because of His great love for each and every one of us and we now can live ‘in the world’, but not be ‘of the world’.

The rich man illustrates very clearly his desire to ‘change’ what would occur with his brothers.  Unlike in Groundhog Day, where the main character Phil Connors can ‘redo’ his entire day over and over again, the rich man cannot.  We here today in Goodland, KS have the opportunity to ‘change’ what we do and how we do it.  We can unlike the rich man pay attention to Lazarus and impact people in our daily lives.  We can reach out and aid the sick and the down trodden.  We can hear the words of Moses and the prophets and say, to everyone we meet, Jesus Christ came into this world for you and for me.  We have someone, Jesus Christ Who rose from the dead and set us free from our sins and that is the promise that we can share with one another.  We unlike the rich man are gathered here today to be fed with God’s Holy Word from Moses and the Prophets and we are equipped to not only engage in ministry, but as we begin our Vacation Bible School this evening to spread the message of Jesus Christ and what He did on the Cross of Calvary for all of us saints ‘in but not of the world’ gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Curiosity didn't KO the feline

Just wanted to ask everyone who is reading this blog if you wouldn't mind introducing yourself and how you found the blog.  I noticed today we reached the 700 mark and would love to get more feedback.

Thanks and I look forward to seeing where everyone is from and how you found out about the blog!

Pastor Darian L. Hybl

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sermon 06032012 Trinity 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, O Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Today we celebrate the culmination of the church year with the deepest and best expression of the Trinity in the Athanasian Creed.  We began in Advent preparing our hearts for Jesus Christ arrival, celebrated His birth, life and ministry with His disciples.  Mourned His crucifixion on Golgotha and gathered with the disciples in the Upper Room where He walked through the door of our heart.  We saw Him ascend to be with the Father at His Right Hand and last week celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit.  May we today surrounded by the saints of Heaven lift our confession of faith in the words of the Athanasian Creed as one voice for all the world, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity! 

In the middle of the woods here on earth gathered three men.  One was egotistical and a playboy, another was celebrated in myth and legend and the third was the peace maker.  Individually, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America have faced evil and overcome it, but in the latest Avengers movie, these three men have to work as a team, put ego’s to the side and work with each other to face Loki and the intergalactic menace that he is unleashing on planet earth.

Unlike Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, the Trinity that we celebrate today on this Trinity Sunday clearly portrays and perfectly fulfills the slogan, “Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity”.  From the beginning, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit created the world!  I love to pull out my King James Bible and read Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth!”  This passage even in Hebrew, the language that Moses inspired by the Holy Spirit recorded, is poetic and beautiful.  When Moses wrote the word ‘God’, it is clearly masculine, but interestingly enough it is also ‘plural’.  Hence, in the creation of the World, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were active and participatory in the forming and shaping of the World.  Even today God the Father continues to preserve the world that we farm, drive on and live in.

Just as the Father in the Apostles and Nicene Creed in the first article is the first person in the Trinity and is the creator of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity has a purpose.  Jesus Christ, God the Son redeemed the World.  Having been born of the Virgin Mary in a stable in Bethlehem, changed water into wine in Cana, walked the streets of Capernaum, Jerusalem, Jericho and the Jordan River and walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus Christ chose to go to Golgotha and die on the Cross for You and for me in order to redeem us from our sins.  Jesus Christ became sin to set us free from the bondage that surrounds and binds us to this earth.  Our greed, our distrust, our selfishness that is manifest in our relationships, whether between husband and wife, Father and Son, sister and brother, Jesus Christ died in order for all of us to be redeemed by His innocent blood and repair our relationships with one another.  We confess today that Jesus Christ, second person of the Trinity redeems us from sin, death, the devil, hell and damnation in order that we may be with Him in His kingdom.  Two weeks ago we celebrated His ascension into heaven and now Jesus Christ sits at the Right Hand of God the Father, because He has redeemed us.  This is not a future fact, but a present fact and reality that we celebrate with our confession of what Jesus Christ did for all of mankind in the Athanasian Creed.

Yet, now that Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Holy Trinity sent on Pentecost has been sent to sanctify the World.  The Holy Spirit Who was with the Father and Son and took part in the creation of the World, now makes you and me Holy.  Luther’s explanation of the Holy Spirit is crystal clear of the Work of the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost testifies to the truth of what God the Father did in sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world.  The Holy Ghost also and most importantly calls, gathers and enlightens us about the work of redemption found in the salvific effort of Jesus Christ.  As the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Ghost works faith in, through and for each and every one of us.   The Holy Ghost through the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers us the blessings of Jesus Christ which is our salvation and making us Holy.  And through the Work of the Holy Spirit, the Father Who created us in our mother’s womb, the Son Who redeems us by His death on the cross, daily reminds us of God’s divine presence in each of our lives.
Clearly, God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit take an active part in each of our lives today, but Satan wants us to doubt not only God’s presence, but also that God cares for us.  In this way, Satan just as in the Garden of Eden wants to woo us away from God and doubt God.  But hear clearly, Satan is wrong.  God is not far away, God is here in our midst.  This morning we heard His Word of Forgiveness when we confessed our sins.  We heard the Gospel message that Jesus told Nicodemus and us today in the promise “16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  In a few minutes we will have the opportunity to confess clearly and truly about God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Athanasian Creed.  And finally around the altar we will receive Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood that gives us eternal life.  May all of us saints gathered here this morning having heard the Words of Forgiveness and Salvation of the Gospel message and tasted the foretaste of the feast to come be emboldened to Confess clearly our belief of ‘Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity’ for all of the saints, especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
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