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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