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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.
//trial script