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Sunday, June 23, 2013

06232013 4th 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, in Your Word You call us to look at one another not with derision and thus not judge so we will not be judged.  Enable us to understand this is not only about capital punishment, but more so about our human condition that we live with and in daily.  For in the Garden of Eden, God created us in His image, enable us to understand we should look with the eyes of faith and forgiveness that You do with each and every one of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

This week three of our confirmation students have just returned from a week at Sky Ranch.  Needless to say this was a life changing event from Thomas Mass Worship, the High Ropes experience in the meadow, Sondance Worship by the creek, hiking to the B-17 crash site, to the Meadows or the Reservoir to seeing the amazing wild-life like deer, bear, moose, marmots or hummingbirds that were not afraid to come and get a drink.  All of these experiences each of the kids will be able to enjoy as a memory for the rest of their lives.  One of the neatest experiences that every camper enjoyed was the low ropes course.  This experience had as its sole purpose to build the small cabin group into a team and community that could trust one another.

Each task, whether passing one another while balancing on 10 inch cement pavers without falling, to how to get from one side of posts to the other, or through the spider web by stepping in blocks in sequence was a part of trusting each other, not only their physical well-being, but also their being blindfolded and trusting like we are to trust God daily.  As a team, this exercise was meant for them to finally experience what community and trust in community was like with their own peers.  Ironically this is something that we as their home faith community have the opportunity to model for them on a daily and weekly basis here at Emmanuel.

Yet, this modeling of the faith community is not easy.  Jesus in this passage told this parable for a definite meaning and reason.  If you had to boil the parable down to a question, I believe it would be this, “Is it a speck or a log?”  This question is important for us today, because in order to answer it we need to know ourselves.  Clearly we are unafraid to answer the question for everyone that we see.  We can look across the aisle, across the pew even across the bed and see our brothers and sisters in Christ and be able to pick at them and tell where they have ‘fallen short of the glory of God’.  On the low ropes course this was easy to do when someone caused the whole group to ‘begin the exercise again’.  It even happens today whether it is with farming practices that we don’t agree with, how someone is raising their child, or even how we treat one another in of all places here in the church.

Yet the reality is we need to know ourselves better and know our own faults, challenges and preconceptions and expectations before we look to the other person.  Jesus is speaking directly to this.  Hear again His admonition, “41 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  This occurs whether we look at the community, the church or even at me as your Pastor.

We are all guilty of this reality, but we are also guilty of not wanting to change, because we have become comfortable with the ‘speck or log’ and ‘change’ for Lutherans is hard.  But the reality is that Jesus Christ calls us to this change.  Jesus says, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”  Jesus wants us to understand that we need to see ourselves and our sins, our short comings and our own problems that have become patterns and remove them.  However, there are some ‘specks and logs’ that cannot be removed.  They are permanent, whether they are experiences we have had of the loss of a child, spouse or loved one, the pain of substance abuse, whether it is alcohol, illegal drugs or even prescription medications or even power that we lay claim to over our peers or contemporaries, or even work-a-holics when we claim our job or the farm means more than our family.  This is a part of our reality today, this is the ‘speck and log’ that binds us up and causes us to seek our own self-well being rather than the glory of God.

And this is exactly what Jesus is speaking to today for us to reorient ourselves to the Glory of God.  Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can be set free.  Without Jesus Christ we cannot be set free from the sins of the world.  We weekly confess our sins, but weekly we return to them both by choice and by our own humanity.  But Jesus Christ wants us to change and to let our sins be removed from us and offers us clearly, freely and without fail the forgiveness of sins that binds us.

While at camp one of the first worships we had called Sondance, which was down creek side offered an opportunity for the forgiveness of sins.  This opportunity was unlike any other but ties directly with our lesson this morning.  When we came to the part in the service of Confession and Forgiveness we were offered the opportunity to ‘remove the speck or log’ that was in our own eyes.  On the ground in front of everyone were wood chips that were to cushion our walking the paths at Sky Ranch as well to minimize the impact upon the environment.  Our worship leader invited us to pick up a stick, log or chip that was representative of our sins that we have carried for our entire lives.  And to proceed to the creek and toss it into the water.  This clear letting go of our sins and them being taken away by the current of the stream was to remind us of our baptism with the Water and Word.  We were set free from our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.  No longer were we bound by the sins, but the ‘log and speck’ of sin was removed.

Today we have had the same opportunity. God through what His Son Jesus Christ has done has set us free from the sins, actions and reactions that have bound us.  Today we can choose to recreate our relationship, not only with our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether our spouse, our children, our fellow heirs of eternal life here in the church, but also with the entire world.  Today we are reminded that Jesus Christ sets us free to trust one another, not seeing the ‘speck or log’, but seeing with the eyes of faith given to us in our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  May we lay claim to this free gift given to us by Jesus Christ and let the reminder of our baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit enable us to embrace each other as fellow heirs of eternal life.  For this happens, not because of us, but in spite of our actions through the free love offered by Jesus Christ for all of mankind, including all of us saints who still have ‘specks or logs’ in our own eyes.  AMEN.

//trial script