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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sermon 03312013 Easter 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!  O God, You gave Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ to suffer at the hands of man and be nailed to the Cross for our redemption, but today we find the tomb empty where His body had been laid.  By His resurrection You have delivered us from our sins and overcome the power of death for us.  May we die every day to sin so we may live with You forever in Your Kingdom in the great joy of the resurrection and proudly answer doubter’s question of ‘So What?’  For Your resurrection was to free all of mankind from our sins, but especially including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel who proclaim, “Jesus Christ as Lord”.  AMEN.

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!  He is risen indeed!!!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

This truth so accurately spoken as we celebrate this morning is doubted.  The doubt manifests itself in very strange and out of the ordinary ways.  This morning we come together as the Body of Christ to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on this Easter Sunday.  On Maundy Thursday we celebrated the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday we mourned His being nailed to the Cross, His death and His being placed in the tomb and this morning we look to the empty tomb and say, ‘So What?’

This Lent we have journeyed and heard about different people and places of Lent.  For those of you who have not been with us at our Mid-Week and Sunday services during this Lent we have seen the Cross journey from entrance to the church, the rear of the church to the front to the chancel and now to the pulpit.  We probably ask the question, ‘So What?’, but the significance is not in its mere presence, but for us this morning it is a reminder that the answer to the question, “So What?” is that it is upon the Cross that Jesus Christ set us free from sin, death, the devil, hell and damnation.

But there are still doubters here among us this morning.  Our doubt is manifest clearly by our not being here for the entire journey.  We come on Easter in our new clothes, fed with the great breakfast put on by the men and attending Easter Sunday, the one service that promises the greatest gift of mercy by our Lord and Savior Who no longer is in the grave.  And we expect that our taking one hour out of our busy life schedule is enough to ‘satisfy’ God or our parents, our peers or even our pastor that we were here to celebrate Easter.

But I again pose the question, ‘So What?’  For what reason do we believe that this one hour overcomes all of our sleeping in on Sunday morning, or going to the lake or mountains or Hays or Denver to shop, not being involved in the worship or ministry of the church or seeking to understand the entire plan of salvation by daily praying the Lord’s Prayer, daily reading the Holy Scriptures or daily seeking God’s will in our lives?
The answer to the question, ‘So What?’ isn’t our assuaging our conscience with our sitting in the pew for one Sunday, even if it is Easter or Christmas.  The answer to the question is that no matter what we do or have done, it is not what we do that matters.  What really matters is what God has done for us!

God has answered this question, “So What” so clearly for us today with His Son Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  Our actions and inactions are inconsequential.  We bring sin and death into the relationship with Jesus Christ through our sins of both omissions where we do not do the things we should and commission where we do what we know we should not do.  Our roles in this life have become to bring death because we were born and conceived in sin and are by nature an enemy against God.  But Jesus Christ in His life, death and especially His resurrection offers us eternal life freely and without question by and through our baptism.

So when the question is asked ‘So What’, we are imperfect creatures and cannot answer, but God has answered this question for each and every one of us.  By Jesus Christ offering Himself on the Cross of Calvary for you and for me God answers the question, “So What” with grace, mercy and forgiveness that is found and made manifest in our baptism into the promise of forgiveness found in Jesus Christ.  God reveals the greatest love for all of mankind with the empty tomb and now His Son, Jesus Christ risen from the dead offers all of us life and salvation and the forgiveness of sins by His innocent death on Calvary for you and for me.

But even though God has answered the question, ‘So What’, what is our response?  How do we respond to the question, ‘So What’?  Has this offer of life and salvation that we cannot earn or merit on our own with our actions and life bind us to indifference and no response?  Will you who sit in the pew today respond as you have in the past by only attending Christmas and Easter services?  Or has a miracle occurred?  Has God penetrated our hard hearts with His Gospel message?  Will you who sit in the pew this morning in honor of God’s greatest sacrifice of His Son, offer yourselves in His service for His message of salvation to be spread to the ends of the earth?  Will all of us no longer make our attendance and involvement be about us or who may see us or which person feels they have the power of control, whether over worship, the business of the church, the money the church spends or the impact we as Emmanuel Lutheran Church has in Goodland, KS?  Are you willing to stand before the judgment seat and say God’s gift of His Son, Jesus Christ was given for me and I am here to serve for Him and not myself?

These are the questions that strike nerves within us.  They cause us to respond with ‘how dare you pastor’ preach like you don’t know my life and the things I struggle with?  How dare you today of all days, on Easter Sunday question my motives, my commitment to God or my life?  But you see, I understand and I do sympathize with you.  As Pastor, I am the mouth piece of God to speak His Word in its truth and purity in all of our lives, but the message of salvation that I proclaim today of Jesus Christ for you and for me has come at a deep cost.  The cost of our salvation was Jesus Christ death on Calvary where on His journey to the Cross He suffered in body, soul and spirit.  The guards beat Him, they spit on Him, they scourged Him with metal whips, they tortured Him to such an extreme that when portrayed in the movie, “The Passion of the Christ”, even some of us out in the pews cringe and cannot and even refuse to watch.  We don’t want to admit that His suffering was as a result of our sins, what we do and even what we do not do.  But this is the depth and the amount of love God has for each and every one of us.

God suffered all of this in order to offer us eternal life.  Yet what is or has been our response?  One young lady named Morgan Doppelheuer heard all of the stories, attended church when she was younger, knew the Bible songs and considered herself a Christian.  When she was older she professed being a Christian, but lived a life and talked a language not of loving like Christ, but lying.  It was not until someone confronted her as the mouthpiece of God with the truth of her lies and lifeless Christianity that God broke her heart and enabled her to understand His love for her and rebuild the relationship God had with her and had promised her in her baptism.  This new found relationship wasn’t built on lies, but was built on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary for her.

This same relationship God is calling us to have this morning.  God clearly with His resurrection is offering us the opportunity to have the greatest relationship with Him and with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ here at Emmanuel.  God’s greatest desire is for us to respond in faith and not only believe in the resurrection, but respond to the doubters and those who are lost that we encounter who ask the question, ‘So What’ with the firm belief in God’s plan of salvation.  A truer statement has never been said, ‘Today is and can be the first day of the rest of your life.’  How are you going to respond to God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ offered for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Easter morning?  We can change our lives and show our love for God by how we answer the question, ‘So What’ with our lives as a living sacrifice in honor of God’s sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ for you and for me that we celebrate with all of us saints here at Emmanuel this Easter Morning.  AMEN.
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