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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sermon 09302012 17th 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!  Humble and obedient Lord Jesus Christ, You purposefully and carefully cut through the sinfulness that You encountered and rooted out the pride that people including Your disciples had.  Yet You also taught them and us today that we will be honored, if we humble ourselves and are obedient to Your will.  Enable us to be changed by Your Word and Witness and choose the lower place so we will be moved higher and be exalted because of Your gift to us of our salvation through Your innocent death on Calvary for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

In the last few months, the church council has had some homework.  Unlike when they were in school a test is not given, although some of their kids might find it funny if a test were given, but it is the opportunity for each of the council members to have their faith challenged, but also enriched for their continued growth in relationship with Jesus Christ and their understanding of the Word of God.  We are reading a book entitled, “Experiencing God” written by Henry and Richard Blackaby.  This book is an opportunity for the council to understand God in a richer and deeper way and help them frame their role as council members by and through their individual and our corporate relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

Recently we read a chapter entitled, “Being God’s Servant”.  This chapter dealt with how we can be God’s servant.  Blackaby’s premise is that “To Participate in God’s Work, you must be a servant”.  But in order to be a ‘true servant’, it requires two characteristics, humility and obedience.  If we are humble to God’s will and His way, and obedient to God’s will even if it ‘smacks’ in the face of what culture and society believe we should do, God has a promise for us and will shape us.  God will shape each of us into the instrument of God’s choosing and use us in a wonderful way as His servant.  Hence, we have the opportunity to relate to God, respond to God and clearly adjust our life to Him in order that God will do what He wants in and through our lives and ministry.

Jesus Christ in the Gospel this morning introduced this concept clearly of ‘servant’ mentality that Blackaby spoke about in ‘Experiencing God’.  Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Jesus clearly wants us to look at what we do, not with the eyes of society, but with the eyes of God.  Now clearly, we Lutherans do not have the societal problem of getting the best seats up front, for Lutherans the best seats are in the over-flow area.

But hear clearly, this is not about what seat we sit in, but more importantly where our hearts are in service.  If you look around you this morning we have the quilts still out.  This is a prime example of service, not for ourselves, but for others.  This is the servant mentality of humility and obedience in action.  By the hands of the women of this church and one of the departed saints, Clarice Martell, God used their God given abilities to sew each quilt and blanket, tie every knot, sew every hem to make them a blessing for people we do not even know.  Because of the love of the women, the dedication of the church to this ministry Emmanuel through these women have responded to God’s call and humbled themselves with these gifts.  God through their hands are altering the lives of someone they do not even know and God will bless and exalt not only the people who receive these quilts and baby blankets, but all of the women who have given of themselves for God’s glory.

Now, let it also be said, this ministry of quilts or giving to Genesis or the Thrift Store does not ‘gain’ or ‘earn’ salvation.  God sent His Son into the World to offer us salvation on the cross without a cost or price.  These quilts and the good work whether acolyting, being lector, greeter, coffee host or even volunteering to usher, of we the people of God.  These are appropriate responses to God’s gift given to us and just as Martin Luther wrote against the sale of indulgences the work done here at Emmanuel is not in payment for grace but a humble and obedient proper response of grace in action.  For this all flows out of the sacrifice on Calvary by Jesus Christ in which all of us have been baptized into and is to which we look with every action.  God’s gift of His Son offering Himself in humble obedience is the greatest gift offered to and for each and every one of us.  Jesus Christ in suffering and dying offers all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel eternal life freely and without cost.  This is the true and purest model of humility and obedience by Jesus Christ for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  So my parting questions for you this morning are how will you serve God in humility and obedience?  How will God’s gift of salvation freely offered inspire you as a saint of Emmanuel?  AMEN.
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