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Sunday, June 2, 2013

06022013 1st Sunday After Trinity

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 Father, today we celebrate four youth taking the step from children to adults in the eyes of the church.  They take upon themselves the promises made for them by their parents, sponsors and the body of Jesus Christ the Church when they were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Enable Adison, Kasey, Kate and Simon to not only hear the Gospel this morning, but to be emboldened to choose life and salvation offered by Your Son Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, including all of the saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

“Which side of the divide will you be on?”  This question seems innocuous enough, but this morning as we come to celebrate the Confirmation of Adison, Kasey, Kate and Simon it is more important for us to consider.  From our Gospel this morning we have heard the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  The rich man is not given a name, but the poor man, Lazarus is clearly named and described.  The rich man lacks for nothing, having all the riches and prestige of not only his station, but his wealth that surrounds him.  He has maids and maidens, servants to serve him cold beverages when needed, food that is perfectly prepared and only the finest linens to lay his head and body on.  Perfumes from far countries are an every day occurrence to make him smell better and hide the stench of the area as well as the people and person right outside of his doorway.

Lazarus on the other hand laying right outside the rich mans mansion has sores that cover his body, dogs that lick his wounds and feed on the sparse food that he so desperately needs.  His clothes are tattered and barely cover his body and do not protect him not only from the elements of the wind, sand and weather, but the sun that beats down on his brow daily without respite.  The odor that rises from him is no better than a sewer since he can’t get to a bathroom, which we take for granted.

Then both the rich man and Lazarus die.  Both the rich man and Lazarus cease their earthly existence and as Luke says, 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.”  This seems like a simple explanation, but Luke goes further in his explanation of the two fates of the rich man and Lazarus which begs the question I began with. “Which side of the divide will you be on?”

You see the divide between the rich man and Lazarus is not a valley, not a simple hill, not a surmountable object that can be conquered.  The difference in the two places is more profound.  It is the difference between Heaven and Hell.  Today this is the decision which the confirmands take the responsibility upon themselves for as they become adults in the eyes of the church.

When they were baptized in the font of Holy Baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God washed them clean of the stain of sin and set them free from the bonds of sin, death and the devil.  But it was their parents, their sponsors and we the Body of Christ that took the responsibility of their education in the Christian Faith in our hands.  When we ‘welcomed them into the Family of God’ we said their upbringing and modeling of faith was in our hands and we were responsible for their faith development.  As a congregation we took the responsibility of offering Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Confirmation instruction.  Our responsibility did not end with the teaching, but continued with our modeling for them the responsibilities of being a Christian.  Putting our faith first, not our vacations or relaxations, not our jobs, not sports, not school, not our education, but our Savior Jesus Christ and His innocent death on Calvary.  This is, was is and should be the message we remember daily and point to as now Adison, Kasey, Kate and Simon are taking the responsibility upon their own shoulders.

Today, Adison, Kasey, Kate and Simon stand before God and the congregation and Confess the Christian Nicene Creed not just as children, but now as full adult members of the body of Christ.  Today they confess the divinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit Who not only created us in our mother’s womb, but redeemed us on the Cross of Calvary and sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith.  For it is the Holy Spirit given on the day of Pentecost that we celebrate today and how the Holy Spirit now guides and directs them for the rest of their lives.

Now I return to the question, Adison, Kasey, Kate and Simon “Which side of the divide will you be on?”  Will you be the rich man or Lazarus?  Will you now that you are eternally responsible for your eternal destination, choose life and salvation through Jesus Christ?  Or will you choose the path of this world that places more importance on money, possessions, personal gain, acclamation, glory and medals that will pass away?  Today is the day you become personally responsible for the rest of your life.

This decision of choices is one that cannot be easily dismissed.  The best role model we have for us today is not only the citizen soldiers and active duty military who serve and protect our freedom, but also the men and women who put their life on the line daily whether as police officers, emergency medical first responders, but also firemen and women who insure our safety.  There is something that is taught in each of these organizations that we need to understand today.  In the military they do not leave anyone behind.  In a recent movie, “Act of Valor” about the Navy Seals, while on deployment one of the seals was killed in the line of duty.  He left behind in his death his wife and family all in order to offer us the freedoms we take for granted.  All of the other seals mantra was to leave no one behind.  And they brought him home to honor not only his sacrifice, but also his decision to preserve and protect our freedoms.

Adison, Kasey, Kate and Simon, hear clearly this today.  We who are here today stand behind you and do not want to leave you behind.  We are here to support you and continue to guide and direct you.  Today you begin to answer for yourselves, “Which side of the divide will you be on?”  Our prayer is that God Who began the work of salvation in each of you on your baptism enable each of you to choose life and salvation with Jesus Christ Who died for all of mankind, including each of you and all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel to celebrate your confirmation.  AMEN.
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