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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sermon 09092012 14th 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, we bow our heads before You humbled because of the realization that You sent Your Son Jesus Christ into the World to save all of mankind.  Grant us the ability to not only thank You for this gift, but pray continually that Your will be done in our lives.  For the lepers in our Gospel felt Your compassion, but only one came to honor and praise You.  May the leper who modeled for us what our action should be through and by the Holy Spirit enable us to as Luther said, ‘pray, praise and give thanks’ no matter the circumstance or outcome.  For Your promises are sure and certain for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Our Old Testament lesson from Proverbs this morning clearly begs a question.  So what did you do?  Written by Solomon about the 10th Century before Christ, the sayings written in the Book of Proverbs have a central focus, the wisdom of the Israelite people.  Used in marriage ceremonies, self-help books and highlighted by authors today seeking to impart a ‘bit of wisdom’ to the reader we find multiple uses for Solomon’s Wisdom.  But this morning, Solomon has a distinct person and purpose in mind in his writing.
This is the fifth address to a son in the series, and is a reading that clearly wants us to understand there are benefits and there are consequences to hearing and heeding the wisdom spoken.  Thus it is appropriate to ask the son Solomon is writing to, “So what did you do?”  But, from our text in Proverbs, the action by the son is not clearly revealed to us in our limited reading of our text, however, our Gospel this morning does have a clear action that occurs.

From our Gospel this morning, Jesus is confronted by “ten leprous men”.  They did not even feel worthy to come into his close presence, but “stood at a distance” to meet Jesus Christ.  Remember that people who had leprosy were outcasts of society.  They stayed in enclaves at the edge of the city, because Old Testament law believed they were unclean.  If anyone came into contact with anybody with leprosy, you were ceremonially unclean and had to follow the ritual of cleansing before entering the temple.  And it was not just a matter of ‘washing’, but the laws that had crept into practice required time, energy and money in order to allow a person to enter the synagogue for worship.  Matter of fact in our Films of Faith series when we showed “Lion of Judah” the ceremonial laws were alluded to when the pig as an unclean creature entered into the synagogue and the pigeons stated it was a blasphemy of the temple and the law.

Yet, these ten men, ‘standing at a distance’ “raised their voices, [at Jesus] saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  Echoing the Psalmist the lepers in lifting up their voices and calling on Jesus to have mercy upon them clearly echo’s the intent of the Second Commandment that says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”  The lepers were in fact asking and begging Jesus for help.  The lepers were calling upon Jesus in their time of trouble and asking for His help.  They knew, Jesus was the only person Who could set them free from the separation they had from their families, their community and from their God in the synagogue.  Jesus Christ was their only hope.

Thus, Jesus hearing their plea and cry for help says, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  Jesus commands them to turn from Him and in faith head to the priests.  Jesus knew when they turned and headed towards the temple, they would be cleansed.  But Jesus required they turn and exhibit an action in faith that they would be healed.  Jesus wanted the lepers to use their muscle of faith and act.  Jesus wanted to see their response to our initial question this morning, “So what did you do?”

Luke continues, “Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him.”  This man, who now was cleansed and could now return to his family and return to the temple, did what we sometimes cannot and choose not to do.  He turned and glorified God, not because of the healing that had occurred, but because the relationship that was broken of his inability to go to the synagogue had been healed by Jesus simple command.  Unlike two weeks ago where Jesus touched the deaf man and put His saliva on his tongue, in this mornings Gospel, the simple command and following or responding to Jesus command in faith imparted the forgiveness and cleansing that the leper so desperately needed and wanted.  And what is ironic is that this man “was a Samaritan”, a foreigner, someone who was not from their neck of the woods and didn’t have the same lineage or history as the ‘locals’ or ‘proper Jews’.

Luke continues, “Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed?  But the nine—where are they?  Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?””  So even Jesus plainly states, there were more, asking the question in a sense, “So what did you do?” about the other nine lepers who were healed.  Clearly they didn’t understand the significance nor appreciate in the same way the cleansing that this foreigner understood.  And clearly only this foreigner by his actions would be able to answer, “So what did you do?”  This Samaritan in faith followed Jesus directions, was healed and turned back and praised God for his being healed, but also his relationship with God being fully restored by allowing him to go to the synagogue and worship God.

But what about we God’s people today.  Would we have responded any different than the nine lepers who just kept on walking?  When God gives a good wheat crop, do you come to God’s house and ‘pray, praise and give thanks’ as the Second Commandment calls us to do?  Or do you go on vacation and by your actions say, God knows what is in my heart?

Clearly there are some hard decisions that need made.  There are some tough situations that we face today like cancer that ravages the body, dementia that ravages the mind, arthritis that cripples us, breaking of relationships between parents and children, husband and wife, brother and sisters in Christ.  The breaking of relationships and ills of the body do not only happen outside of the church, but live, breath and have a profound impact upon how we love one another and deal with one another right here in the church.
When we encounter these trials and tribulations, just as Solomon imparted wisdom to his son, we have the opportunity to answer for ourselves, “So what did you do?”  Clearly as fallen creatures we may not and usually do not act the way that Jesus Christ modeled for us.  But we are afforded an opportunity to think and act like Christians, who have been baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That is our calling, our mission and our responsibility.  Because all of us are called by Jesus Christ in, through and by our baptism into His life, death and resurrection since we are called Children of God.  Our mission as individuals and a congregation to each other is to spread the love of God to the entire world.  And it is our calling and responsibility to fulfill this daily and individually towards each other, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ and all of mankind.  For we can and do have an eternal impact on the lives of all people, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  So my question for you today is simple.  Because of God’s free grace that requires nothing from us, offered to us through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us saints here at Emmanuel, “So what are you going to do?”  AMEN.
//trial script