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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sermon 04142013 2nd Sunday After Easter

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, it was through Your Son’s humiliation on the Cross of Calvary that our world was lifted from sin to salvation and You rescued us from sin, death and the devil.  Grant to us clear understanding of the joy found in Your Son Jesus Christ Who is our Good Shepherd Who guards, protects and cares for us sheep in His fold known as the church.  Enable us to know You, hear Your voice and embrace Your will for our lives, for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

When we hear the 23rd Psalm from this morning, we are comforted by the words, the images it creates in our minds and especially the promises that God makes to each of us.  Clearly the poetic nature of King David writing this Psalm was derived from his experience in his life.  In the recent History Channel television series entitled, “The Bible” they used this Psalm when David was facing Goliath and the Philistines.  Yet, what is more important for us today is not the text itself, but the concept of relationship.

Each of the texts we have heard read this morning talk about a shepherd.  Whether it is their job description or how the shepherd feels about the sheep from Ezekiel, the promises that God makes in the Psalm of leading, protecting, providing and showing mercy or from the epistle how we are like sheep that have gone astray from 1st Peter, or our Gospel that spells out to what degree the shepherd will go to protect and provide and how the hired hand will flee.  These texts deal with relationship between shepherd and sheep and apply to and for each of us today, not only with our personal family but also with our relationship with the church, but specifically our relationship with Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd.

If our relationship with Jesus Christ is dead, decaying, deceiving or destitute than our lives will likely be the same.  Just as when farming if the soil is not tilled between crops, nourished with fertilizer before planting, cared for during the growing season by spraying for weeds or kept from to much traffic by the tractors or combines during harvest, the yield for the crop in the future will be diminished.  Our relationship with Jesus Christ is the determiner not only of our destination of heaven or hell, but also our lives that we live on a daily basis.  When we have a good relationship with Jesus Christ as is manifest with daily prayer, scripture reading and conversations with God, our attitude and outcome of what we do will show it.  When our relationship is nearly dead, we do not have conversations, but dictations with God of ‘I want more rain’ or ‘the moisture was not enough’, our lives and especially our attitudes will be clearly disconnected from the church and God.  And our relationship with not only God Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be unhealthy, but not be what God wants it to be.  Therefore the fruit of spreading the Gospel message of Jesus Christ for those who are still in the valley of the shadow of death will be elusive, just as a good crop is with little or no preparation and our lack of faith in God.

God is calling us to a deeper relationship with Him.  This relationship is not about us and our selfish desires or our perceived need for rain, healthy crops or kids that mind us, it is about God and His blessing.  Last week we heard how God blesses us through our relationship with Him through Word and Sacrament of both Holy Baptism and Holy Communion and how on Easter we could answer the question, ‘So What’ about the resurrection.  But today we need to understand God is calling us to a deeper relationship, not only with each other, but especially with Him as our shepherd.

As a Pastor, I get calls or visits to help people.  Most people who walk through my door or give me a call think the problem is with either the other person, or they don’t have the needed information in order to succeed, whether it is marriage, work, family or their own feelings.  There are even some people who sit in the pew today and are too afraid to ask for help, because, either they are a man and they can’t show or admit weakness or lack of knowledge whether dealing with family, spouse, work or even their relationship with God.  Or to ask for help is the long held belief that there is supposedly a stigma for admitting that they are human and that they are broken and they need help.  But what I find after talking with most people is that the largest number of people who come need help with relationship.  Whether the relationship is between husband and wife, parents and children, between members of the body of Christ or even between relatives, siblings or classmates, they feel a personal disconnect or a discontent within themselves and with the person or the situation and know there is something that is askew. 

What is vastly true and unmistakable is that we live in a broken world where relationships have been broken from the entrance of sin in the Garden of Eden through the Exodus from Egypt into the promised land, to the coming Messiah and even with His disciples after His death and resurrection as well to us today.  Our world is broken and cannot be fixed by ‘self-help books’, seminars or the latest greatest self-actualization or new age exercise from the internet, television or talk show hosts, like Dr. Phil or The View.  These shows and hosts are entertaining and sometimes do have a nugget of worth, but they still miss the intrinsic aspect of relationship that is in our DNA.  It is the relationship between Creator and created, our relationship between God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we His creation that live in this world.

If we really want to change, we have to go to the source that can change our relationship, and that is Jesus Christ.  Two weeks ago we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and how our relationship with God through Jesus Christ was no longer only of the Son of God here on earth walking among the people of God, teaching, healing or helping.  With Jesus Christ death on Calvary, the relationship radically changed to one of pure dependence upon that one act of humility, grace and love that Jesus displayed by allowing Himself to go to the Cross.  When Jesus bowed His head the veil of the temple was torn, the connection between God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ to us was cemented and no longer nor was it ever that we could win our salvation, bridge the gap nor connect ourselves, Jesus Christ became the connection for us.  Jesus bridged the gap between God and Man for all time and all place.

With our being baptized into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection, God the Son, changed our relationship with His Father and Him and thus with all of humanity for all time and all place.  Our daily lives filled with sin, bound to death and only self-centered could now be confessed, forgiven because of the blood of the Lamb of God and radically changed our trajectory.  No longer are we bound by our sin to death, but through the Blood of Jesus Christ offered on the Cross we are set free to have a loving forgiving relationship with the Great Shepherd and with all of God’s Children.

Because of God’s action on the Cross of Calvary our relationship can now be one of love, forgiveness and freedom not bound in sin, but freed by the Blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.  This freedom is why our shepherd Jesus Christ entered into the world and why He now sets us free to have a full and complete relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but also with our fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  Our relationship is not bound by sin, but freed by Blood.  We now can hear and heed God’s call for a new relationship with Him, but also with and for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script