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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sermon 02102013 Quinquagesima Sunday

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 redeemer, when You chose and anointed David to be King of Israel, You looked, deeply into his heart.  In the same way You look at us today as Your children and know our deepest darkest secrets, but in spite of our sins, You redeem us through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Enable us to understand Your commitment to us and how You graciously anoint us in our baptism to be heirs of the gift of eternal life.  This occurs as a free gift for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

When Samuel entered into the presence of Eliab and his sons began to parade in front of him, this probably felt like a modern day pagent or even a job interview.  Looking with the eyes of this world Samuel probably looked for the fiercest, the most resplendent and best dressed son who would be king.  Samuel like society looked with his eyes, measured every feature with his intellect and felt he would choose based upon the things he could see or perceive in his interactions with each of Eliabs sons.

But Samuel experienced and heard God speaking plainly to him with these words, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature…”  Each of these are outward physical features that only show what is on the outside of each of us.  God clearly says concerning each of the sons of Eliab that first paraded in front of Samuel with these features, “I have rejected him”.  And there is a reason for this, God continues, “for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

With these last seven words, the perspective and the landscape of how God looks at all of mankind has changed.  It is not with human abilities that God uses to discern if one man is better than another, God, Holy and Divine being Who created the heavens and the earth, formed the trees that give us oxygen, the animals that feed us, the oceans that nourish us, looks not with eyes for appearance, but God ‘looks at the heart’.  This revelation for us today not only changes the landscape, but reveals God’s interest in our lives even here at Emmanuel.

This past month we as a congregation chose new members of the council, which we will install this morning.  We as a congregation voted with eyes of the outward appearance of each person, just as Samuel began to do when searching for a king.  But God who looks not at the outward appearance looks at the heart of the person and wants us to look like Samuel heard from God with more penetrating eyes at the heart with these three realities for each of us today.  God wants us to look with forgiveness, faith and for the future that God has in store for us here at Emmanuel.

We are to look with eyes of forgiveness, because God has first forgiven each of us.  We begin our communion service with confession and forgiveness.  Just as God is the One Who baptizes us into His Son’s life, death and resurrection, God is also the One Who forgives us our sins.  Though our sins are like scarlet, God makes them white and cleanses us from our unrighteousness.  God does this because of His great love for each and every one of us as we are reminded from our Epistle lesson this morning as well as our Gospel.  God having mercy upon us frees us from our sins and sets us free to be the children of God He formed and shaped in our mothers womb.

Not only looking with eyes of forgiveness we are to look with eyes of faith.  This faith we have been given in our baptism with the intimate connection of Water and Word where God again reaches down from heaven and not only forgives us but imparts to each of us the muscle of faith that we are to use daily.  Our muscle of faith is to be exercised, used and relied upon in every aspect of our daily lives.  Just as farmers you plant a seed in the fall and in faith wait until spring and the harvest of wheat, God planted the seed and muscle of faith in each of us and God waters it, exercises it and makes it grow and one day like with Margie, Brad or Judy takes them home to be with Him in His kingdom.  We with the eyes of faith experience in relationship with God the fullness of His love and wait for God to take us home to be with Him in His kingdom.  This is the fulfillment of God’s promise made through Jesus Christ to and for each of us.

And finally we like Samuel can look with God’s eyes of forgiveness, faith and to the future.  Samuel didn’t know or understand what the future would hold for the one he would anoint with oil as king, but God looking in David’s heart knew what the future would be and with the eyes of faith saw the future and the leader David would be for the people of Israel.  So to when God poured Water and Word over our heads He knew everything about our future.  God knows what will occur for all eternity and prepares us for the future He has in store for each and every one of us.

The preparation of forgiveness, faith and the future is to fulfill God’s plan of salvation for all of mankind.  This is made full, manifest and complete on Calvary by Jesus Christ, but individually made complete for us with our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  For God fulfills these promises and enables us to understand that God looks not at our outward appearance, but at the heart of all of mankind, with the eyes of forgiveness, faith and our future, especially including all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
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