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Sunday, July 7, 2013

07072013 6th 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, in true servant fashion You clearly wanted to teach all of us the importance of Your coming into the World, not only to save us, but to enable us to understand our role.  Enable us to be learners of Your will and way and be able to teach it clearly so Your Glory may be revealed.  For only through Your life, death and resurrection may we enter into Your kingdom prepared for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As we that is Sarah, Michele and I drove across half of the continent this past week returning from Virginia and North Carolina, every town and state that we travelled through had its own distinctiveness.  From the mountains of West Virginia, the hills of Kentucky, the flatland of Indiana and Illinois to the bogs of Missouri, but when we reached Kansas there was an individual distinctiveness and uniqueness.  Each state whether from the trees to the landscape to the rivers all taught the first settlers what would and would not work from what crops and vegetables would grow, to the farming techniques, each area continuously taught the settlers what would thrive and survive.

From the Gospel this morning we have heard even Jesus trying to ‘teach the disciples’ and we the ‘hearers’ of the Word of God an important lesson summarized with one question, ‘Are you a teacher or a doer?’  When I look out into the pews in front of me I see both ‘teachers and doers’.  Everybody has a distinctive bent, when there is work to be done, the ‘doers’ appear and things happen, whether it is the siding on the parsonage garage, putting in windows in the educational wing, fixing the chimes in time for a funeral, we have a bunch of doers in the congregation.  When we need teachers, they ‘come to the forefront’ and what is needed done is completed, whether teaching in Sunday School, how to acolyte, usher, greet or even be a good hostess for coffee hour.  Yet, Jesus is attempting to get something greater and more appropriate across in His lesson for the disciples and us this morning.
Hear His words again, 17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Notice Jesus own words, I that is Jesus didn’t come to ‘abolish’, but ‘to fulfill’.  It was Jesus entrance into the World and His living, dying on the Cross and being raised from the dead on the third day in order to fulfill the plan of salvation for all of mankind that He entered into humanity and walked this earth.  Jesus came in order that we might live.  Jesus came to set all of mankind free from the bonds of sin, death and the devil.  Yet, notice what Jesus joins to this, ‘whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’  This is the promise, command and imperative that is made to all Christians of every time and every place including all of us here today.  The ‘them’ are the people that enter our lives, darken our door or even whom we encounter on a daily basis whether in the community on the street or even at Wal-Mart.  When our forefathers came and established Emmanuel Lutheran Church here in Goodland, KS, they came to teach others what they had learned and been taught by others before them who had heard this same exact imperative.  They came to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation of Jesus Christ.  They came together as a community of faith begun in a sod church out in the middle of farmland to insure the message of salvation would not die upon the vine, but would be preached, proclaimed and purposefully passed on for future generations, meaning you and me who gather here this morning here at Emmanuel.

This is why we as a church moved from the country to the city, why we at one time had two services, because we were overflowing in our worship of God, not of ourselves.  This is why we had the addition to the church built, called the Education Wing for all the children of the congregation.  This is why we partnered with other churches in the area to create Sky Ranch.  This is why we send our kids to Sky Ranch and we have Sky Ranch Day Camp come here.  These are the options and opportunities that we have for growth, vitality, but more appropriately and importantly the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God is calling us to fulfill His imperative that He made through Jesus Christ to teach about the plan of salvation.  Hence I return to our question, “Are you a teacher or doer?”  Once you have identified for yourself and know what you are good at, God through His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is calling and inspiring us to use the gifts He has given us and work in His Kingdom.

Rick Warren in an article entitled, “Always Preach for a Specific Response” maintains that Pastors should preach with a ‘goal’ in mind.  In essence, enable the hearer to answer the question “What do I want them to do?”  My intention this morning is not only to help each of you identify which you are, hearer or doer, but to inspire you to work with me in the Kingdom of God.  There is a pervasive mentality in our culture and even here in our own church that, we have a Pastor, now we don’t have to do anything, or I have done my time.  This mentality is not only destructive of the Body of Christ which we are a part of but is actually against the Gospel that Jesus came to fulfill with His death on the Cross.  It is also against the patriotic themes we hold so dear for our country that we join together in song this morning.  Jesus is calling us to partner with Him and with each other for the furtherance of the ministry of the Gospel of Salvation.  Jesus is calling us to teach His Word, live as His disciples, put aside our self-centeredness and bitterness for others that may sit across the aisle or in the very next pew and be inspired to further the message of salvation of Jesus Christ.  This is why Jesus Christ came into the World to seek and save the lost and we are His partners, His hands, His feet, His mouthpiece, by our lives, our actions and how we treat one another.

This month we have an amazing opportunity to fulfill our calling from God for His people that is made to and for each of us in our baptism.  We have Sky Ranch Day Camp coming.  This ministry is not a success or failure because of or in spite of one person.  This is the ministry of our whole congregation.  It is not something that any one group or individual can put on as the responsibility of the individual, but it is our responsibility as a community.  If we have 100 kids, 50 kids, 25 kids or even 10 kids, the success will be as a result of our coming together as a congregation and providing for the leaders the resources they need, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner meals for the counselors, a place for them to spend the night in air conditioning which all of us take for granted or just the opportunity to take the time to be a help with snacks, crafts, games or even the pot-luck.  This is our God given opportunity to ‘do’ as Rick Warren indicated and which Jesus Christ calls us to do and be as fellow heirs of the Kingdom of God.

This is our baptismal calling which each of us have been baptized into with Water and Word that through the work of the Holy Spirit inspires us to commit to being not only a hearer, but also a doer of the Word of God.  Hence the choice is ours, we know Jesus died for all of us saints on the cross of Calvary, but how are you going to live out your calling as God’s children today here at Emmanuel Lutheran Church?  AMEN.
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