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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.
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