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Sunday, May 19, 2013

05192013 Sermon Pentecost 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!  Heavenly Father today we celebrate Your sending the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  Enable us to welcome the Holy Spirit and remember that this gift is the fulfillment of the promise You made to Your disciples and to us in our baptism into Jesus life, death and resurrection.  For the Holy Spirit comes to give life and truth abundantly and enable us to be bold with our faith for the spreading of the Gospel message for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

“You have control.” This statement is usually made between two individuals who sit at the controls of a multi-million dollar aircraft that has either hundreds of passengers sitting aft of the flight deck or with lots of cargo that is destined for locations across the globe.  Ironically this ‘measure of control’ is important, because without the hands on the yoke to control the destination, the airplane would be destined for trouble.  In the church today a better question for us to ask is , “Who is in control?”

Today we celebrate the entrance of the Holy Spirit into the lives of the disciples.  Fifty days ago, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave.  Good Friday the disciples mourned the crucifixion of Jesus Christ Who had walked with them, healed the sick, fed the poor, taught the disciples and people the truths of the Kingdom of God, but with His crucifixion the disciples were lost.  Then early on Sunday morning in the garden, Jesus Christ Who had risen from the dead appeared to Mary and ultimately to His disciple in the Upper Room.  For the next forty days the disciples had revealed to them the further truths about the Kingdom of God.  How it required Jesus Christ to come and live among us, suffer at the hands of the synagogue officials, be crucified and die in order for the plan of salvation to be fulfilled.  This was in order that all of mankind may be offered life and salvation through Jesus Christ.  This is the free gift given so we might live with Him in His Kingdom for all eternity.

Then forty days after His resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven leaving His disciples alone and now sits at the right hand of God.  We showed that last week with the moving of the Christ Candle from next to the baptismal font to the altar.  This fulfills not only scripture, but also our Apostle’s and Nicene Creed where we confess Jesus Christ sitting at the Right Hand of God the Father.

Now fifty days after Jesus resurrection, Jesus promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled.  Jesus Christ while here before the trials and tribulations of the last days, told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be coming.  And today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.  Notice the red paraments, the change in the opening sentence.  All of this is our celebration of Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Thus we can ask the question, “Who is in control?”

Unlike the airplane that has cables and hydraulics to control the direction, speed, altitude and destination of the airplane, we, the church have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to maintain control.  The Holy Spirit’s job is three fold, to call, gather and enlighten us.

The Holy Spirit just like we use cell phones is here to call us to the responsibilities of the church and our baptism into Jesus life, death and resurrection.  With Jesus return to the Father in Heaven, the Holy Spirit comes to convict us of our sin and point us back or turn us around from our sinful ways and head us back in the direction God calls us in with our baptism.  The Holy Spirit was sent to insure that our focus is not on ourselves and our sinful desires, but focused solely upon Jesus Christ and the spreading of the message of salvation for all mankind.

Not only does the Holy Spirit call us, He gathers us here together to praise God and be strengthened by each other, but especially the promises God has made to us.  The Holy Spirit is here to remind us of the promises Jesus Christ made while here on earth, but also to feed us with the Heavenly food of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper as we do today.  In the communion liturgy we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit to bless the meal we receive that offers us life and salvation.  For in our receiving the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ we are empowered by the Holy Spirit with the strength and fortitude of God through our baptism of each and every one of us that enables us to point to God and His promises.

And finally the Holy Spirit is here to enlighten us.  With the gift of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood we are enlightened to the gifts of life and salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives.  God clearly continues to work through the Holy Spirit in our lives today.  We pray for the Holy Spirit when we as a congregation make decisions that are important, whether the building of a new sanctuary like was done in 1947, the education wing in the late 1960’s or even recently with your calling me as your pastor.  We should daily pray for the Holy Spirit to help each of us make all of our decisions so they are God pleasing and for God’s message of forgiveness to be spread to all the nations.

Just as pilots have control of the aircraft, even farmers have control of the tractors whether planting corn, spraying for weeds or cultivating the ground in preparation for planting.  The Holy Spirit that we celebrate today on Pentecost comes to cultivate we God’s children through our baptism for the express opportunity to not only spread the Gospel message, but live lives of faith.  Remember last week I asked what kind of impact you wanted to make upon people’s lives?  This week, I ask you, “Who is in control?”  You with your desires to get and have all the toys, all the benefits of membership in the church without shouldering the responsibility that God is calling you to through the Holy Spirit.  Who do you serve?  God or man?

Well, with the power of the Holy Spirit God can use You to not only proclaim Christ crucified for all of mankind, but model for all of mankind how He called You by the Gospel, enlightened You with His Gifts and has sanctified and kept all of us in the one true faith.  For this is the gift of God given at Pentecost and which we celebrate today for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel celebrating our Pentecost.  AMEN.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

05122013 Sermon 1st Sunday After Ascension

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 Lord, daily we trip and stumble in our walk with You, but when we skin our knees or bruise our egos, You are always there to pick us up.  Console us as we cry and wipe away the tears that result from the reminder of our fall and that You are here to bind our hurts and apply the salve of the Gospel through Your Holy Spirit.  For this is the promise You made to Your disciples in preparation for Your return to heaven on ascension and that You make to us today for all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

When we found out that Sarah’s foot was broken a few weeks ago, as I stood in the ER and in the weeks that have followed, I have more clearly understood what my role as her father was here on this earth.  Not only am I the sole bread winner of the family and the spiritual father of the household, but I also have a protective role for her as not only my daughter, but also as our only child.  Keeping her from the street in front of the house when riding her bike or trying to insure she isn’t taken by a stranger, this is only part of my protective role.  There are days that I need a reminder from Michele and Sarah of her need of me, but when she broke her foot, I have more clearly understood that I have a more important role in her life.  I not only protect her, but I pick her up when she falls, trips or even stumbles from events that happen in this world.  This begs a question for me as a parent, in essence, what kind of impact have I had on Sarah’s life previously and what kind of impact would I like to have upon her life from now on?

From our Gospel this morning we hear from Jesus Christ this same sentiment of impact upon His disciples from Jesus Christ of protection of the disciples and we His children today.  Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.”  This passage like the last few weeks is again prior to Jesus betrayal and suffering and death.  Thus in order for the disciples to fully understand the events of the following days, Jesus is telling them some important information, because Jesus knows that His disciples will stumble.  Not only will they stumble, but they will deny Him and allow Him to innocently suffer at the hands of the Romans, the synagogue officials and even as they watch His carrying His Cross to Golgotha.

Yet, this is OK.  This is part of the plan of salvation. Jesus Christ had to suffer at the hands of the synagogue officials, had to go to Pilate and Herod, had to be beaten and scourged and carry His cross to Calvary.  Jesus Christ had to watch the disciples run when He was handed over in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had to see the disciples trip, stumble and fall flat on their faces all alone and with the image of Jesus being betrayed into the hands of the synagogue officials.  Not hours before each of the disciples had made promises in the Upper Room to stand and fight for and with Jesus, but then clearly and quickly the disciples tripped and stumbled over their own words and promises.

We are not unlike the disciples of Jesus Christ.  We make promises as well that we will be witnesses of Jesus Christ.  We promise that we will come to church, support the church with our money, our time and our talents and treasure.  We make promises just as the disciples did in the Upper Room of being willing to die to get the message of salvation out for all mankind.  But then just as the disciples tripped and stumbled when Jesus was being betrayed, we deny Jesus Christ, whether it is with our rationalization that our crops need planted first rather than coming to church, we would rather go 4-Wheeling, play golf, go fishing, sleep in on Sunday or spend time with our family or friends.  Each of these are examples of our tripping over our promises we made when we were Baptized, Confirmed and even when we partake of the Lord’s Supper.  We trip and stumble over our promises because we ‘rationalize’ an excuse that we deserve the ‘rest’, ‘relaxation’ or the ‘time away from church’ because of the stress of carrying the ‘load’ because no one else will step up and continue the ministry of the church.  No one will model what we see Jesus Christ did for the church.

Yet the reality is that we do trip and stumble daily and are in desperate need of a Savior.  And this is the promise that Jesus Christ makes to us today that He is here to pick us up.  Jesus Christ went to the Cross of Calvary to die for each and every one of us.  Jesus Christ offers us the forgiveness of sins out of His endless compassion for us without any strings attached.  Jesus offer of forgiveness has a desired outcome, in order “that you may be kept from stumbling”.  His offer is to keep us safe.  But it is not a promise of safety that we can clearly understand or sometimes even fathom.

Jesus Christ offer to and for us will put us in harms way.  Jesus says, “They [that is the leaders of the synagogue] will make you outcasts from the synagogue”.  This occurs for us Christians today.  Consider the oppression in countries like China, the challenges we have in speaking the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in schools and other public locations here in the United States.  The radical change of the importance of human life, how no longer is human life desired, but able to be manipulated or even prevented with buying a ‘morning after pill’ that takes a human life if we made a mistake of a one night stand.  So just as the Jews of the 1st Century understood being outcast from the synagogue, we to today have the same challenges from our society for our standing up for Jesus Christ and His offer of forgiveness and the protection of life and prevention of our stumbling.

But the promises of God are clear, the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father He will testify about Me [that is Jesus Christ], and you [that is us] will testify”.  This is what we have been called to do.  Jesus Christ picks us up daily and places us in situations where we can testify what He has done and continues to do in each of our lives.  This is not only our calling, but our opportunity as Christians who have been cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb of God.

Now I return to my original question, but reframe it for us this morning.  What kind of impact do we want to have?  This morning we celebrate two great groups of people.  Not only do we celebrate the graduates whom we have taught, enabled to make right decisions and had a great impact upon, but we also celebrate Mother’s who have protected not only these graduates, but all mother’s who protected and have had an impact upon all of us from the time of our conception to our birth and our growing up.  There is no better or more poignant example of dedication than a mother who though tired from the day still wakes up at all hours of the night because her child has woken up from a sound sleep and needs cuddled.  Or of a mother that works long hours during the day and still takes time to play on the floor with her child at night when they seem to have gotten their second, third or even fourth wind.  Or of the mother that is willing to pick up their child when they have skinned their knee, cuddle them as they cry and put Neosporin on the wound and gently put a band aid on the knee, elbow or hand. 

Today we celebrate not only the model found in Jesus Christ, but also the manifestation found in our Mother’s, those who are still with us today as well as those who have entered into the church triumphant.  And all of us, including the graduates and everyone sitting in the pew from youngsters to even our oldest members get to ask the question, what kind of impact do we want to make upon the lives of the people around us today? 

May we remember, learn from and emulate this model of protection from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Who came down and died for us and Who picks all of mankind up when we stumble, including all of us saints that gather here at Emmanuel this morning celebrating our graduates and especially our Mothers.  AMEN.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

05052013 Sermon 5th 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!  Lord Jesus Christ, Your prophecies before Your crucifixion were meant to reveal the truth not to harm us, but help us understand Who You were.  Enable us to understand that though we are scattered, You unite us with the truth of the Gospel of salvation for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As a child growing up we used to take trips to some of the lakes and ponds around our home in Keysville.  My Dad loved to fish and us kids loved the experience of getting out in the fresh air.  One of our great past-times as all kids was to find rocks and toss them into the pond or lake to see who could make the biggest splash.  It wasn’t hard to find pebbles and rocks and even easier to toss them into the water.  Like most parents they would scold us because we were scaring the fish or the peaceful serenity of the moment.  But what is strange is what we saw when the rock would enter the water.  Yes it would make a big kurplunk and splash, but more so it would also send out ripples, ever moving circles out from where our rock had entered the water.  The bigger the rock, the bigger the ripples and the further they would go.  What is interesting is that never would we as kids think about the ripples returning to the center, but only being scattered.

From our Gospel this morning, Jesus message is clear for His disciples, “You will be scattered, but I will unite you.”  This passage is again before Jesus betrayal and crucifixion and is Jesus prophecy not only of His ascension into heaven, but also the entrance of the Holy Spirit into the lives of the disciples in a most powerful way on the day of Pentecost.  But Jesus is telling the disciples that He knows the disciples will all fall away from Him and be scattered when the Passion begins.

The disciples scattering is a reality of their humanity and fear for their own lives.  Just as we do when we encounter people, forces or events that scare us, we either ‘fight or flight’.  The disciples when faced with their own mortality would as Jesus said, ‘be scattered’.  They would not come to Jesus aid, nor would they desire to be around.  Though they had witnessed the raising of the dead, the feeding of the 5000, the miracles of healing and prophecy fulfilled, they would run away and leave Jesus to the devices of the Romans and temple guard who had taken Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus would suffer the brutal beatings of the guards, the late night questioning by the Synagogue officials, the trial the next morning, being beaten before being led to the Cross and ultimately His being nailed and hung as a public spectacle on Golgotha.  And the disciples all had scattered.

But after Easter morning, the disciples had come back together and in the Upper Room were united and re-united with Jesus Christ.  For the promise that Jesus Christ made to the disciples that we have heard this morning has come true.  “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  With this phrase Jesus Christ revealed to the disciples and us today our unity in overcoming the world through Him.

This morning as we celebrate the baptism of Aspen, we lay claim to this unity of the faith with her baptism and the reminder of our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  We are set free from the bonds of sin, death and the devil by the Water connected with the Word of God.  God has united all of us as His children under His banner of freedom found in Jesus Christ.  We are not scattered, but united for His work here in His Kingdom.

Yes we live scattered lives and sometimes are dragged away from God by our sinful desires, but the promises we find in Jesus Christ gift of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper unite us as the Body of Jesus Christ.  In this union we are reminded that God has not only promised us life and salvation, but offers us the forgiveness of sins and daily a renewal of His promises of forgiveness for all of mankind.  This offer, is not exclusive, but inclusive for all of mankind including all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel who celebrate another union of a scattered soul, in this case Aspen, into the Body of Christ we know as the church.  Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ Who unites all of us who have been scattered, but now are united in, with and under the grace offered by Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

05042013 Funeral Sermon Lowell Dean Morton

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!  Heavenly Father, we come together today mourning the loss of Lowell Dean with his entrance into the Church Triumphant.  Enable we who hear Your message of salvation offered for all mankind to understand that though the veil of death separates us today, Your promises from the Cross are for each of us who mourn.  Sooth our hearts this morning with the salve of the Gospel and allow the Gospel to be heard clearly by all of his family and friends who gather here this morning to say goodbye.  AMEN.

With a hammer and nails a carpenter can build almost anything.  When I visited where my father grew up in Northeast Iowa, I visited with many different people who knew my grandfather Frank.  You see Frank, my grandfather was a carpenter just like Lowell Dean.  With the tools of his trade on the back of his beaten up, hand painted pick-up there were many farms, families, houses and homes that had been built by my grandfather.  From steps to the cellar, to the foundation of a chicken house to pole barns on farms to sidewalks in the town, Frank had touched many different places as well people in the local community of Fort Atkinson, Iowa.  I bet Lowell Dean as well could drive through Goodland and point out each of the places that he had worked and the people that he helped and had met along the way.

Ironically Jesus Christ was also a carpenter as well.  With his father Joseph being a well-known carpenter Jesus Christ learned from Joseph all the ins and outs of being a master carpenter here on earth.  From the construction of corrals to hold livestock to homes for families to grow old in, Jesus as a carpenter also in His hometown of Nazareth easily knew every home he had worked at during His life.  But what is ironic is that Jesus Christ wasn’t just a small town carpenter, He was the Great Carpenter of our universe.

In our Gospel reading this morning we heard how Jesus Christ the great carpenter had to go to prepare a place.  Jesus as any good carpenter went to prepare a place for all of mankind including Lowell Dean and each and every one of us.  The promises that Jesus makes to us in the Gospel this morning is fully fulfilled on the Cross of Jesus Christ with His life, death and especially His resurrection. Jesus went to prepare a place, build it and make it ready for our eternal entrance into His kingdom.

Jesus went and prepared a place in order that “there you may be also”.  This promise is fulfilled in our hearing this morning for Lowell Dean.  Because of Jesus Christ preparation, God has prepared the place for Lowell Dean and each and every one of us to live for eternity.  For Jesus Christ through His life, death and resurrection for all of mankind prepared a place for all of us.  This is the promise that we lay claim to this morning, this is the promise that a humble carpenter made to Lowell Dean and makes to each of us this morning.  May we not only hear God’s promises, but heed and understand that we may not doubt like Thomas, but believe this is for all of mankind, including Lowell Dean and each and every one of us gathered here to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of what Jesus Christ did for Lowell Dean and each one of us!  AMEN! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

05012013 Funeral Sermon for Beulah Fern Hawks McClung

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 Heavenly Father, we come together today mourning the loss of Beulah with her entrance into the Church Triumphant.  Just as she celebrated Your entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday may we remember that death no longer has dominion over us.  For through her baptism into Your life, death and resurrection You have set her free from death and now she rests in Your loving and caring arms.  Though the veil of death separates us today from Beulah, may we be comforted by Your Gospel and hear clearly the promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation offered by Jesus Christ for all the saints of Beulah’s family as well as all the saints gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

If one could ever define impossible odds it would most likely be a 7-10 split.  For some the 7-10 split in bowling is one of the toughest in the game to beat, but with the right speed, spin, efficiency and practice one can master this nearly impossible completion of a spare.  This morning we come to mourn a woman who not only learned how to beat the hardest split in the game, but has now beat an even more cunning opponent than two pins on opposite sides of the lane.  The opponent we celebrate victory over today is Satan and the finality of death that has taken Beulah from our presence here on earth.

When we hear the 23rd Psalm in the well known King James Version we have heard clearly the story of the Shepherd and the promises made to Beulah on the day of her baptism and to us today.  God made to Beulah in her baptism and makes a promise to us today that He is our shepherd and we are His people and as our shepherd God will continue to lead us, prepare for us and anoint us with oil.

Throughout Beulah’s life she was not a follower, but a leader in the community and emulated this aspect of the shepherd as leader.  Whether it was working with the Hospital Auxillary, at Wal-Mart as a greeter, in the Bowling League and at nationals with the prestige of being the oldest bowler, Beulah emulated what a leader was meant to be and do.  She learned that leadership was purposeful and Jesus Christ was the greatest model for her.  Since she was baptized in the Waters of Holy Baptism and signed, sealed and delivered by the Blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary, God had instilled in her the desire to be a doer and leader not only in the community but also and especially in the home.

Beulah’s greatest legacy hasn’t been the activities she was a part of in the community but the clear preparation she made in and with her children.  Not only bringing them for Holy Baptism, but also instilling in them a clear understanding of the difference between right and wrong, nursing them when they were sick and needed her most, but also Beulah taught them how to respect one another and instilled in them the good work ethics of independence and self-confidence. But it didn’t stop with what people saw, but continued with what was a family thing the importance of family and playing cards together or camping.

Just as a good farmer prepares the soil, God instilled in Beulah the clear idea of preparation not only of the importance of family, but also preparation of her soul.  While Beulah was in both Wheat Ridge and Good Samaritan she would attend worship, hear and read in her room the Word of God and come and receive the precious Body and Blood of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Just as David alluded in the preparation of the table in Psalm 23, Beulah came to God’s table being prepared for the feast she now will enjoy for all eternity in her Father’s Kingdom.

And as she is now in the presence of her Lord and Savior, God anoints her head with oil.  This imagery not only is relevant for King David who was anointed with oil as the King of Israel, but also of Jesus Christ and how as the King was anointed before His burial with oil.  We to in, through and by our baptism have been anointed with the oil of gladness of the promises of our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and especially His resurrection.  These are the promises that we lay claim to today and hold onto with sure and certain faith and hope in what Jesus Christ did for Beulah and all of us on the Cross of Calvary.

One of the clearest memories I have of Beulah is the celebration she was a part of that was included in our latest congregational directory.  While living at Wheat Ridge the residents would gather for fellowship and the Lord’s Supper on a monthly basis in one of the residents rooms.  In our directory we included a picture of all of the residents including Beulah holding up Palm Branches as they celebrated Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  This image of triumph better than making the 7-10 split is what God wants us to remember this morning.  God through His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ has overcome sin, death, the devil, hell and damnation for all of mankind, but especially for Beulah and this is the promise that God has made to and for her and we are reminded of with the last verse from the 23rd Psalm.  David sums up for us today what the promise is for Beulah this morning that she “will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”  God has made this promise and now fulfills it in our hearing.  For nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Jesus Christ Who offers us the gift of salvation for all of mankind, but especially for all of the saints of Beulah’s family and friends gathered here to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of what Jesus Christ did for Beulah ands each one of us!  AMEN!
//trial script