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Sunday, August 11, 2013

08112013 11th 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 God, when we come to Your temple we enter as sinners and leave as saints.  This only occurs because of Your action, not ours.  Break our proud and prideful hearts and humble us to see and be embraced by You and Your Cross for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

If you have ever come to the church office between Sundays during the summer I usually do not wear a clerical collar.  For one of my professors that would have been a sacrilege, he said he even would do yard work wearing his collar.  I personally try to be comfortable and try to be approachable by anyone to the point that I even wear sandals reminiscent of Jesus day and time in order to beat the heat and be comfortable.  My attire though appearing to be ‘unprofessional’ makes me very approachable by complete strangers and also has a certain whimsy that is quite Lutheran.  You see most of the shirts I wear either have Christian sayings from scripture, the Complete Small Catechism by Martin Luther or something that allows everyone who pays attention to it to consider our faith in an interesting manner.

While preaching for a small congregation in Delaware before coming to Kansas, I would always bring a t-shirt with some Christian or Lutheran saying that would in one sense give permission for the church to not only show off Lutheranism, but also introduce matters of faith in an unusual way.  One such shirt I acquired has a phrase on the front that speaks directly to and for us today from our Gospel.  “I’m proud to be a humble Lutheran!”

In our Gospel this morning, Jesus tells a parable about two men who come to the temple to pray.  These men are complete opposites not only in jobs, one is a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.  Their demeanor is clearly different, one goes to the front of the temple, the other hides behind the pillars not wanting to be seen.  And what is said in prayers by both is plainly polar opposites, the Pharisee is prideful and the tax collector is repentant.

This same polar oppositeness is seen in the shirt, “I’m proud to be a humble Lutheran!”  I wear the shirt not only to illicit a chuckle, because then I know the person who read it gets the irony, but also to help us understand we Lutherans and Christians are no different than the men who Jesus tells the story about.  The key difference is not only in our words, but in our understanding and what cannot and can be seen in how we live out our faith with the people of God that we meet on a daily basis.

Jesus parable reveals for us today that we are no different than the Pharisee or tax collector.  Sometimes we naturally and purposefully gravitate towards pride or repentance, but the reality is as Jesus clearly says, the tax collector is justified more so than the Pharisee.  The tax collector who humbled himself instead of exalting himself will be justified.

Our society lives on pride, whether it is in our vehicles, our farms, our yield of crops or our being seen in a good light by our relatives.  We also take pride in our hometown schools like the Goodland Cowboys and the sports and the position our children play, how our team or children are doing in sports, our jobs or farms and the yield we have of corn or wheat or what we have done here in the church.  We want recognition and accolades and to be noticed in the community and among our friends, family and by the church, just like the Pharisee in the temple.  However, Jesus words sting us, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted”.

For the humbleness we should aspire to as modeled by our Savior Jesus Christ was manifest by His choice to humble himself on the Cross.  Don’t hear that as you should go build a cross and hang from it.  Jesus chose His destiny of humiliation in order to give us eternal life.  In Jesus being humble, obedient and choosing death, He was exalted and now sits at the Right Hand of God the Father.  With Jesus true obedience and dying for you and for me, He offers all of us the opportunity to be exalted with our being humble and obedient to Him.  And our being exalted is because of Him and Him alone, not what we do, but what He has done for all of us.  For this gift is given to all of us, not because of our pride or arrogance, but because of Jesus humbleness for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script