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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sermon 07292012 8th 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 Jesus Christ, You instruct we Your children with so many images in order that we can know the difference between good and evil.  But in the world that surrounds us wolves come in sheeps clothing and even here in church they sit among us.  Enable us to discern the wolves by their lack of fruit and lead them to the truth found in and through our baptism into Your life, death and resurrection.  For You came into this world to set all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel free from sin, death, the devil, hell and damnation, through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

In the Trilogy of the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf the Grey upon seeing the Ring that Bilbo leaves to Frodo goes to inquire from his old friend and fellow wizard, Saruman the White about this ‘ring’.  Upon his arrival they are old friends and quickly rekindle their relationship.  However, as time elapses and Gandalf reveals his purpose to aid Frodo in taking the one Ring that rules them all to Mount Doom to destroy it, Saruman, reveals his true character, nature and allegiance to the dark lord and the dark arts.

From our Gospel this morning, Jesus as Son of God knows the difference between Good and Evil.  Using the image of the two starkly different animals of sheep and wolf, Jesus in teaching the people about ‘false prophets’ wants the image to be unmistakably seen and understood.  Just as we could clearly call Saruman a wolf in sheeps clothes for Gandalf, Jesus as consummate teacher continues by using the image of a tree bearing fruit in order to drive home the importance of discernment.

Today, we desperately need this skill of discernment.  With the tragedy of the midnight showing of Batman in Colorado sometimes the wolves in sheeps clothing come among us.  Just as with previous tragedies there are stories of sacrifice that have come out of this tragedy.  But what about discerning the wolves that surround us today?

Just as Gandalf in going to see his old friend and fellow wizard Saruman thought he was seeing a friend, we to in coming to church expect safety and freedom.  But the fact is, even here among the four walls of the church, where we come and confess our sins and receive the forgiveness of sins offered by Jesus Christ in and through His precious Body and Blood, there are still hypocrites here among us.  Can we easily label who the ‘real believers’ and the ‘hypocrites’ are that sit in our pews?  No.  As the Pastor, should I be able to distinguish between the sheep and the wolves?  Yes I should be able to, but as fallen creature I am, I with Paul would say, I am greatest among sinners.

Yet, Jesus Christ from our Gospel this morning provides us a means to discern the difference between the sheep and the wolves.  “You will know them by their fruits.”  We as the body of Christ gathered here at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Goodland, KS are known by our fruits.  This is not a threat, but a fact of reality that Jesus wants us to understand.  We as the Body of Christ here in Goodland have both believers and unbelievers in our midst.  The believers are the sheep who follow their master, Jesus Christ and in faith and faithful obedience produce good works, not because they have to, but because of the Gospel message that Jesus Christ offers freely for all of mankind.  The unbelievers are the wolves who nit pick, talk behind people’s backs or in small groups, and do not produce good works that glorify God.  These two distinct groups, believers and unbelievers we cannot discern, that is why when we explain the third article of the Apostle’s Creed as the visible and invisible church, discerning which group we are a part of is left to God who knows and can see our heart.  Not the heart we think we have or want people in the church or community to know, but our true intent and desires laid bare before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Clearly, we could ‘draw a line in the sand’ and say, unless we ‘do’ certain things we are not sheep and must therefore be wolves, but this is legalism and throws Jesus sacrifice on the Cross for all mankind into disarray and question.  Jesus Christ calls us to a greater purpose, cause and life; a life as a believer, a life as a sheep, a life where we produce good fruits that give glory to God, and point to His life, death and resurrection for all mankind and enable us to do good works and give God the glory.

But what does that look like for us today here at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Goodland, KS.  It means we need to have patience, purpose and passion.  Rome was not built in a day and we need to have patience with ourselves to change and become the children of God He has made us to be.  Not only patience with people we have disagreements with, but patience to learn what God has in store with and for us.  Since I arrived here in Goodland, we have made great strides in how God can work through us.  We have established the “Films of Faith” series, brought back Sky Ranch VBS day camp, built a handicapped bathroom, installed sound boards and now repainted the fellowship hall, all ways in which we as a church are trying to reach out to the community to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are still are in need of patience while we discern our purpose for Emmanuel.  If our purpose is to spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, what and how does that look like for us individually and as a congregation?  Is it only through Vacation Bible School, or does it also mean all of our involvement in Sunday School?  What about Bible Study?  When was the last time the Word of God was read in the home in private devotions or a small group bible study?  What about our continued involvement in the ladies organizations in the Winter or Spring Teas?  What about our involvement to minister to a grieving family at a funeral dinner?  How about visiting Wheat Ridge or Good Samaritan with a bulletin from Sunday or just to say we were thinking about you?  What about teaching Sunday School to shape the minds of the children we promised to nurture in the faith when they were baptized?  Some would easily say, “I’ve done my time” whether Sunday School, funeral dinners or visiting the shut ins, but, truthfully our time, opportunity and calling to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not complete until we rest in our Lord’s arms, for when we reach out and minister to people in these ways the fruits for the kingdom of God are clearly manifest and obvious.

We finally can have passion with all that we are involved in glorifying God.  One of the best examples of having passion for something was in the movie, “Rudy”.  The main character, Rudy, as you know played for Notre Dame football and daily exhibited the passion for his love for the game, but also Notre Dame.  We to as the children of God forgiven by the blood of the lamb, empowered by the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ can have a deep and abiding passion for the spreading of the Gospel message.  Our passion for this is fed by the Word made flesh among us Jesus Christ and enabled to spread the message of hope that Jesus Christ was sent into this world, not to condemn the world, but that the World might be saved through Him.  For the message of salvation is clear, we cannot merit or earn our salvation by fruits, it is a free gift of God offered to all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sermon 07222012 7th 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 Jesus Christ, Your food is to do the will of the Father, but we fallen creatures will faint without food.  Yet, You knowing our shortcomings provide for our every need.  May we be fed with Your Word and strengthened with the true knowledge that You give us what we need, even when we can’t and don’t ask for it.  For we pray in the prayer You taught us, “Give us this day our daily bread” and You do provide for us.  Assure us of this Your promise and fulfill it for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

In the latest Avengers, when the world is being attacked by the evil tyrant Loki, and all the additional alien creatures, the only hope for the Avengers is to close the intergalactic portal to another world.  Ironically the military sends a nuclear device to destroy New York City in order to protect the rest of the world, but Tony Stark understands the problem and sees an opportunity for a different outcome.  The only way to close the portal and prevent the destruction of New York and the world is for a nuclear device with enough energy to disrupt the free flow of energy.  So Iron Man guides the nuclear war head directly into the worm hole and thus closes the portal to another world and in miraculous fashion saves the world.

From our Gospel this morning, Jesus tells the disciples that they have a problem.  The problem isn’t aliens like in Avengers, but it is a “large crowd…[that] had nothing to eat”.  Unlike Tony Stark who was a genius and could quickly analyze a situation and figure out a game plan to remedy the situation, the disciples are like the proverbial deer in the headlights.  The disciples who have previously seen Jesus heal people, whether paralyzed or a withered hand, cure the man with an unclean spirit, seen Him walk on the water or free a little girl of the unclean spirit somehow do not understand that Jesus knows exactly what He will do.

Jesus in one sense is teaching the disciples that there are consequences with inaction.  Notice He says, “If I send them, [that is the people I have been teaching] away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way”.  We are weak creatures that need sustenance.  Not only do we need physical food, but the disciples and we fallen creatures today want and need to see a miracle.  The disciples put flesh on this by saying, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?”  The disciples did not understand that Jesus had placed them clearly in this situation in order for His glory to be revealed yet again, to the people, but also to the disciples and we who read this lesson today.

Jesus Christ as God’s only Son says, “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.”  Jesus felt complete compassion upon these people that had listened to His teaching, heard Him tell them of the Gospel of salvation and now after three days were hungry and wouldn’t make it to their homes.  Jesus as compassionate Son of God wanted to not only feed their spiritual needs of the sustenance of the Word of God, but wanted to provide for their physical need of their stomachs.

As the redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ asks the disciples a simple question, “How many loaves do you have?”  This question begins a miracle of epic proportion.  Jesus Christ blesses the loaves and the fish and the people are fed.  Not just fish and bread, but the food of heaven from the Master of the Universe Holy Hands.  Jesus Christ gives enough food for four thousand people to be fed.  Now we might consider that a small miracle, but what needs to be understood is that the number counted in Jesus day and time would only have included the men, it would not have included the women and children.  Hence if half of the 4000 men were married that would be 6000 people including wives.  And if only half of the married men had two kids, that would mean that Jesus fed upwards of 8000 people.  Thus, this little miracle of feeding approximately 8000 people is equivalent of feeding nearly twice the size of Goodland in one meal with seven loaves and a few small fish.

Jesus Christ in this one meal shows a deep compassion for the people of God not only in feeding them the Word of God and feeding their spiritual hunger, but clearly feeds the people of God’s bodily hunger as well.  Jesus Christ clearly shows His interest in the needs of the people who came to hear Him speak and stayed three days.  But what about we who come today here in Goodland, KS to hear God’s Word and look for a miracle in our daily lives.

Clearly there are issues in our daily lives that are a need for Jesus Christ to come and relieve us, whether it is rain for our crops, the oppressive heat of summer, sickness in our families, brokenness of relationship between parents and children, friends and family or church and God.  We come here today asking God to come down in a more tangible way and enter into our lives.  And Jesus Christ clearly says to us today that He has compassion upon us.

We find Jesus compassion in a promise that He taught His disciples and we pray even today.  In the words of the Lord’s Prayer, the Fourth Petition we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”.  Martin Luther writes:

“What does this mean?  God gives daily bread indeed without our prayer, also to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is meant by daily bread?  [Daily bread is] Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”
Jesus Christ clearly promises to provide for our needs even when we do not pray and in miraculous fashion gives us what we need to survive.  May we like the disciples who witnessed Jesus feeding the people with seven loaves and a few small fish lay claim to God’s promises to us today in and through His Word and understand the miracle of the gift of God’s Son and Savior Jesus Christ.  For Jesus Christ came down from heaven and in and through the miraculous birth from the Virgin Mary began His life here on earth to offer us life and salvation by going to the Cross.  Jesus Christ in true servant fashion came to seek and serve we His children through our baptism into His life, death and resurrection in order to offer us the greatest miracle of salvation of our souls by His death on the Cross.  Jesus Christ came to not only perform miracles of healing, but feed our spiritual needs and feed our physical needs and ‘give us this our daily bread’ for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sermon 07152012 6th 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 Jesus Christ, it is clear from Holy Scripture that the prophets foretold of Your coming into the world.  You came to fulfill the Law of Moses and kept perfectly the 10 Commandments, because we cannot.  Though we are conceived in sin, through our baptism we are made perfect because of Your salvific work on the Cross of Calvary.  May we through the Work of the Holy Spirit lay claim to our birth right through our baptism into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

In the Avengers movie, Captain America is first seen punching a weight bag in a gym trying to stay in shape.  Nick Fury walks in and Captain Rogers immediately asks, “Do you have another mission?”  The response Fury gives is cryptic but exact, “it isn’t another mission, but an attempt to ‘save’ the world”.  Being the soldier he was created to be, Captain Rogers agrees to help ‘save the world’.

Our Gospel this morning like the movie Avengers has the main unifying character of Jesus Christ.  But unlike the Marvel Comics world that Captain Rogers lived in, Jesus Christ was born into this world for a sole purpose.  Jesus Christ tells us exactly what His role is.  Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”  Jesus Christ came to save the world for all time all place and all of mankind.

When the foundations of the world were created by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ knew what His role would be.  Jesus Christ knew that the Law, the 10 Commandments would be given by Moses to the Israelite people.  Matter of fact our Films of Faith Series today shows the “Prince of Egypt”.  On that mountain where God’s finger on stone tablets wrote what was also written on the heart on man, God knew that mortal man would not and could not fulfill the law.  We talk about the 10 Commandments and say they are simple rules, but truth be told we fallen creatures cannot keep one Commandment, let alone 10 Commandments perfectly.

Our Gospel this morning tells us what Jesus Christ came in this world to do.  Jesus Christ came into this world not to abolish the Law given to the Old Testament people, but to fulfill each Commandment in its entirety and perfectly.  Jesus Christ born of a virgin in a stable, smuggled to Egypt for protection from Herod, returned to Nazareth and grew up in the shadow of the City of David, did miracles on the beach, on the Sea of Galilee, in the desert in the towns and for the people, Jesus chose to go to the Cross in order to fulfill all righteousness and set us free.  Jesus Christ endured the shame, guilt, pain and humiliation of the Cross in order to set us free from our sins.  Jesus Christ saves the world including you and me.

Jesus Christ fulfilled each Commandment because He was perfect in every way.  The prophets foretold of a coming Messiah that would save the world and Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the prophesies of the Old Testament.  Jesus Christ in fulfillment of the prophets chose death in order to give us life.  Jesus Christ fulfilled the plan of salvation that had been set in motion from the day Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, the giving of the 10 Commandments, the tribes of Israel fleeing Egypt, the prophets calling the people to return to God from their idols and false worship, to their receipt of God’s Commands and Jesus entrance in human form in Bethlehem.  God’s divine plan had been set in motion and found ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.

We 2000 years later are in a direct line of the fulfillment of the prophesies of old by our being grafted into the Family of God through our baptism.  In and through the waters of Baptism we have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.  We have been made heirs of eternal life by Jesus Christ fulfilling all of the Laws of the Old Testament.  We the people of God gathered together to worship this morning have been redeemed by Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary.  No longer does sin, death, the devil, hell or damnation have dominion over us.  Jesus Christ sets us free to be the people of God in Goodland, KS.
The meal we are about to partake of is yet one more manifestation of how Jesus Christ offers us life and salvation.  When we partake of the Bread, which is Jesus precious Body and drink of the Wine that is the Blood of Jesus Christ we receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  In, with and through the elements of Bread and Wine, the Mystical Union of the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ offers us a foretaste of the feast that is to come when we enter eternal life.  We have been saved and set free because Jesus Christ came to fulfill all righteousness, not by abolishing the Law, but by perfectly fulfilling the Law for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sermon 07082012 5th 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 heavenly Father.  It is clear that Your Word divinely inspired is given to us to read, mark and inwardly digest, yet until we hear it taught to us like Jesus did from the boat we refuse to understand.  May we gather to hear Your Word and Message of salvation offered for us and hear God’s call for all of us to be fisher’s of men.  For the message is clear, Jesus Christ came into this World to freely offer us eternal life through His life, death and resurrection for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As the wildfires burned this summer in Colorado and being able to watch them first hand while at camp our Gospel lesson of fishing on a lake reminds me of a movie I enjoyed in college.  In the movie Always the opening scene is two fisherman casting on a serene lake with not a care in the world.  Relaxing and enjoying themselves they are apparently oblivious to what is in the distance.  In the distance is a float plane scooping water to be dropped on the fires ravaging another forest and those two fisherman are right in the path of the plane.

We are not unlike those fishermen out in the middle of the lake oblivious to the world and what is occurring around us.  As a result of the fall with Adam and Eve we ignore things around us and sometimes only concentrate on what is right in front of us.  The disciples from our lesson this morning are no different.  After spending a night out in the fishing boat because it is cooler at night and the fish come to the surface to feed, and catching nothing, the disciples are sitting on the shore of the lake cleaning up after an uneventful evening.  And Jesus comes by and asks to be taken out so He could teach the people that were following Him.  So Simon, whose boat Jesus had gotten into, dutiful and hospitable as he was took Jesus out into the shallows so He could teach the people and everyone could listen without being crowded.

What Jesus taught is not recorded, nor is there any indication of its relevance, but what occurs next is a greater lesson for Simon, the people Jesus had just taught and we God’s people today.  Jesus tells Simon to put out a little further and go fishing with his nets again just as he did the previous night.  And you can imagine Simon’s reaction, “Come on Jesus, we just got done from fishing all night, we are tired and I just want to go home and relax”.  But dutiful Simon relents and lets down the nets.

In faith Simon let down the nets and Jesus Christ in exercising Simon’s faith causes ‘a great quantity of fish’ to be caught and fill both of the boats.  Simon’s reaction is not unlike ours when we experience something that defies logic, like a hail Mary touchdown by the Goodland Cowboys or getting 150 bushel per acre corn on dry land after a summer without any rain.  Simon in hauling in a boat full of fish experienced the Grace of God in the most tangible way.  And what was his reaction, “For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken”.  Simon and the other fisherman were amazed that in the same waters they had fished all night, now in the daylight their nets were filled.

But what is more surprising is Simon’s next reaction.  Our text doesn’t tell us what it is, but Jesus Words tell us differently.  Simon not only was caught in amazement, but now great fear.  Jesus says to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”  No longer would they rely upon the uncertain trade of fishing in a boat in turbulent waters upon the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was calling Simon, James and John his business partners to fish, not for creatures under the water, but for men.

This call of Simon, James and John is also the call Jesus Christ makes to us today.  We the people of Emmanuel are called to fish for men.   But I can hear clearly, ‘but Pastor, I don’t have time’, ‘but Pastor, that’s your job, that’s what we called you for’, ‘but Pastor, I don’t know how’.  Brother’s and Sister’s God does not call us because we are able, God calls us to enable us to do great things by trusting in Him and what He can and does through us.

We like Simon from our lesson fear what will occur and that we won’t know what to say, if given the opportunity.  We doubt God and that is exactly what Satan wants us to do.  Satan doesn’t want us to trust God to enable us through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Satan wants us to question God and deny giving glory to God.  But God in His infinite wisdom wants us to rely solely upon Him and trust in Him like Simon did in the boat and ‘cast the net’, and let God bring us to the place where we can minister where we are needed.  God will equip us, God will give us the words to speak, God will enable each of us to minister and proclaim the Gospel of Salvation that we have through what Jesus Christ has done on Calvary.  God will give the Holy Spirit to enable us to be the bold witness and not to fear and be ‘fishers of men’.  That is the promise of God not only to Simon in our Gospel lesson, but to and for us today.

In the most recent installment of Alvin and the Chipmunks, “Chipwrecked”, the six chipmunks are marooned on a volcanic island.  While there, Simon is bitten by a venomous spider and in a delirious state assumes the personality of Simone a care free, out going free spirit who is not afraid of anything, the complete opposite of who he typically is.  Alvin, the usual jock character, fearful of nothing, not even Dave’s wrath, when faced with the daunting reality that survival depends upon him, becomes the ‘serious’ chipmunk.  What is ironic is that both Simon and Alvin had these two natures in both of them of seriousness and care-free, but they in the face of fear that had placed them on the island were empowered to ‘change’.
God in and through the Work of the Holy Spirit can change each of us as well.  We have our marching orders, we can be changed and empowered to proclaim the message of salvation.  For the message of salvation that Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary for you and for me is our battle cry.  That message of salvation isn’t only for these four walls of Emmanuel or any church, that message of salvation is what we have been called to proclaim in our daily lives for all the saints of the World.  God has called you and me like Simon, James and John to be fisher’s of men because of what Jesus Christ has done on Calvary for all of mankind, including we the saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sermon 07012012 4th 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 and merciful heavenly Father.  We have come before You this morning confessing our sins and asking for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ to have mercy upon us.  May we rest not upon our own works, but upon Your divine mercy that Jesus Christ gives to us through His sacrificial life, death and resurrection for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

While at confirmation camp I had the pleasure to meet a young man training for the pastoral ministry.  Unlike most seminarians Loren entered seminary after serving in the military.  Having served as an interrogator in the Army, he experienced first hand the loss of fellow brothers in arms on the front lines.  The loss was so tangible that after returning to the states he had a hatred for the Iraqi and Afghani people.  So strong was his distrust, he could not shake it.  But what Loren began to understand through the ministry of his friends and family to him in his time of need is clearly spoken to us today from our Gospel lesson.  God is calling us to be merciful.

Unlike most experiences of mercy in our world today where we hear of the media and politicians cutting each other to shreds.  Or where we hear of athletes talking bad of each others performance, or how our supposed friends turn on us when our backs are turned, our Gospel lesson and our Savior, Jesus Christ call us to act differently.

Jesus in Luke says it clearly, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”  This section of scripture follows the Beatitudes where Jesus tells His disciples how they may be blessed.  Jesus is attempting to inspire the disciples to live lives of mercy and grace.  Just as our vacation bible school kids and our confirmation kids learned about grace, Jesus is inspiring the disciples to live a life of grace.

Notice he tells them two things, “Do not judge” and “Give and it will be given to you”.  In our society today we like to judge, whether it is the politicians, the other farmers who border our fields, the other men and women sitting in the pews next to us or out in society and how they dress or act, we like to be judge, jury and executioner.  That is a law mentality and we naturally gravitate to it, but Jesus Christ calls us to not judge.  Jesus Christ calls us to be merciful.  That mercy Jesus calls us to not only aspire to, but shower upon others that are around us and with whom we come in contact.

For in ‘not judging’ and ‘giving’ we will then reap a greater harvest.  Jesus shows us how we will be blessed saying, “For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”  When we hold the legal ‘high ground’ we will on the judgment day be held to the same standard, but if we live with mercy on lips and in our hearts, God will have mercy upon us.

In the trilogy movie, “Lord of the Rings”, Frodo, the main character who carried the burden of the ring to Mount Doom to destroy it shows us what true mercy is about.  Throughout the second and third movies while trying to get to Mount Doom to destroy it, Frodo shows mercy to Gollum the vile creature who originally found the ring in the stream.  Frodo shows mercy and compassion to Gollum in ways that Sam his companion cannot fathom, but clearly models Jesus words of giving and ‘not judging’.

Yet, Jesus in our lesson goes on to tell a powerful parable that all of us like to use to ‘justify’ ourselves.  The parable of the speck or the log has been used since Jesus first told the parable to ‘justify’ both for and against people of criticism.  We as fallen humanity are clearly able to ‘rationalize’ why we are always in the right and the other party is in the ‘wrong’.  But the stark reality is that there is only One Who is truly in the right, that is Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ was the only perfect human being on the face of this earth.  Jesus Christ with His life, death and resurrection is the only one Who can honestly and truthfully call each of us to repentance.

What we can lay claim to is how God has been merciful to and for each and everyone of us.  Because of Jesus Christ and our baptism into His life, death and resurrection, God has had mercy upon us and through His Son Jesus Christ offers each of us eternal life.  The meal we are about to partake of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood offers each of us the gift of eternal life.  We through our baptism and eating of this Holy Supper have showered upon us mercy promised from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to Moses parting the Red Sea, to Jeremiah the prophet calling the people to repent, to Jonah going to Ninevah to Micah declaring how we can humbly walk in the ways of the Lord.
These promises, fulfilled through the Blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, changes hearts, even our own hearts.  For you see Loren, the future pastor had his heart changed by the mercy of God and through God’s promise and forgiveness.  Loren, now more fully understands that those promises are even for the Afghani and Iraqi people.  The promises of mercy and forgiveness are even for we the people of Western Kansas.  They are for everyone because of the free grace God offers to each of us through what His Son Jesus Christ did on Calvary for all of mankind, including us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script