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Sunday, June 9, 2013

06092013 2nd 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!  Merciful Father, You continuously invite us to weekly worship in Your house where You prepare not only a feast of Your Word, but also Your Sacraments that give us life and salvation.  Yet, we sometimes place our priorities not on You, but on ourselves.  Enable us to confess our shortcomings and rely solely upon Your grace offered through Jesus Christ death on Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us Saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

One of the most dreaded days back east when in school was when it would rain and we could not go out and play at recess.  We would spend the time in the gym and one of the favorite games of coaches was ‘dodgeball’.  The game was easy as was shown in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, but as someone that was slow with reflexes I was always one of the first people out, I was an easy target.
In our Gospel this morning, we hear about a lot of people who are ‘dodging’ a feast.  Having been invited by the head of a household who had prepared the feast and made all the preparations, the people made excuses why they could and would not come.  They ranged from ‘a new land purchase’, ‘new yokes of oxen that needed tried out’, ‘a new wife’, to every imaginable excuse.  They were ‘dodging’ going to this feast and giving all the reasons and rationale in the world.

Are we any different today?  We make excuses and provide ‘plausible’ explanations why we cannot do something whether in the home, at work or even here in the church.  We provide the reasons and believe they are adequate explanations even here at church.  Whether it is our attendance at worship, involvement in the men’s or women’s groups, helping with Meals-On-Wheels, ushering for the worship services, acolyting, being a reader, greeting, serving as a coffee fellowship host, providing flowers on the altar, serving on the council, being a mentor for a confirmation student, serving in some capacity in vacation bible school or Sunday school.  We dodge the responsibility that we took at every baptism in this church, every confirmation and our joining the church and becoming part of the Body of Christ. 

The simple question for us today is “Are you dodging God?”  Am I guilty of this?  Yes I am.  I dodge God and the responsibilities placed on my shoulders and which I am eternally responsible for with my ordination vows and also my installation as Pastor here at Emmanuel.  I am guilty of dodging the responsibility of holding myself individually responsible to God as well as to you the people God has placed under my care as your shepherd.  All of us are just as guilty.  We skate around the issues, want to be a ‘good person’, don’t want to ‘make waves’, but have clearly avoided the problem and now have created a pattern that we live with.

Dr. Henry Cloud in his book “Boundaries for Leaders” uses this paradigm of problem and pattern.  We continue to have problems and these problems usually continue to manifest themselves and this becomes a pattern.  Whether it is an issue that if we consider it in a business context like the farm, the office or in our place of work it would have been dealt with immediately without a second thought.  But here in the church we have created a pattern of avoiding the issue, dodging the tough calls and calling it ‘mercy’.

But God is clear, that is not mercy, it is our dodging God’s call to each and every one of us to the responsibilities that God has given us as His children as the body of Christ.  There are consequences and we may not immediately encounter these consequences, but eventually they will be a tangible reality and catch up with us.  God today and every day of our lives is calling us to a banquet feast that we cannot fathom.  Our text talks about a prepared dinner, well, God has prepared for each and every one of us a feast beyond our wildest imagination.  And when we make the excuses that we do on a daily basis, God not only is not honored, we cannot be partakers of the greatest gift God has to give each and every one of us.

Are we dodging God?  We probably are, but we can do three things to change this.  Resolve to accept God’s offers in our lives.  Be God’s action agents whether in work, the community or even our church.  And finally receive God’s continued bidding to not only be involved in His plan, but become good and gracious stewards of what God has entrusted to each and every one of us.

Easily we talk about ownership, whether of property like houses or farm ground, vehicles, equipment or even our gadgets like phones and computers, but we are just stewards of these items.  We cannot take them with us and they can and do pass away.  If we are dodging God and the opportunities He is giving us then our ownership is nothing more than selfishness.  Let’s resolve to use use God’s gifts to each of us for His glory in order to point to God and what He did for all of mankind.  For God understands what true sacrifice is because He offered His Son Jesus Christ in order to give us life and salvation.  God was a good steward and sacrificed Jesus Christ in order that we may be in His kingdom.  May we daily resolve to not dodge God any more, but encounter God and offer ourselves, our time, our talents and even our treasure in order to reach the lost and those who have never heard nor experienced the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For the Gospel is for all mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning, so let’s not dodge the free grace offered by God any more.  AMEN.
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