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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

09012013 14th 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!  Heavenly Father, You reveal Yourself unto us today, not only in, through and by Your Word and meal we will partake of, but clearly manifest in the creation around us and our personal experience of You.  Enable us to not only encounter our World but come to a realization that You sent Your Son Jesus Christ, the Word Who became flesh, to live among us and die for each of us in order that we might live for all eternity with You and all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel to hear Your Word for each of us today.  AMEN.

There is a tower that stands outside of our church.  It has a sole purpose.  What is the tower to do?  Hold the bell tower and the speakers for the chimes?  Look ascetically pleasing as our pinnacle reaching to God?  Or is it to hold highest what is most important to us?  This morning we begin a series where we will be hearing about God’s gift to mankind that was given to us on stone, but it all started with a tower.  In the coming weeks we will be learning about the 10 Commandments.  For some of us, it will be a reminder of what we learned in Catechism Class, for others it will be a new exploration of what God gave to His people on two tablets.  These ten imperatives, written on stone, originally broken on their initial journey down the mountain and rewritten because of being broken in anger by Moses contain for Jews as well as us today the most important laws from God for the people of Israel and for each and every one of us gathered here today at Emmanuel.

For our culture today here in Western Kansas as well as across Western Civilization we have laws that are based upon these original laws of the 10 Commandments written in statutes and other imperatives by our society.  Whether speed limit signs, stop signs or lights or even at the bank or ball park.  When we ‘break’ one of the commands of society and are caught, we usually go to court, make our plea before a judge, have a verdict of our actions and sometimes pay a fine and sometimes even spend time in jail.  But the original intent of the 10 Commandments was clear, for as the explanation says, in order for all of us to “fear, love and trust” God.

As a reminder, hear again, the Commandment and its explanation as written by Martin Luther.  Follow along as I read from the insert “You shall have no other gods.  What does this mean?  We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.”

It is abundantly clear that this first commandment is to keep us from making gods out of our possessions, people or our passions.  There are numerous stories that illustrate this extremely well from our society and even our contemporary culture, whether our farms given by God that we make more important than our faith, computers that we feel we need in order to do our jobs better, toys like fishing rods and reels, bicycles or shotguns for recreation or our sporting events, but the Old Testament contains the perfect story about the First Commandment.  God’s people in Genesis 11 were ‘building a tower’ in order to ‘reach God.’  When the people came together they were not only ingenious, but nothing would be impossible for them.  With one language and nothing preventing them from accomplishing anything, God deemed it better to not only confuse their language, but also scatter them around the world.  The reality is these people could accomplish anything and God knew it.  Since the fall of man where sin entered into the world, God’s plan of salvation was in motion and with the people building a tower and being able to accomplish anything this could have potentially accomplished a goal with and by mans abilities and not by God’s grace.

Therefore, God not only destroyed the tower, He scattered the people and even scrambled their language.  What would have been accomplished if they had completed the tower was what is called ‘works righteousness’, or where man accomplished by his or her own ability the plan of salvation.  If this would have occurred then there would have been no need of a Savior and therefore no need for us to solely rely upon God and not ourselves.

Our ego says, that is the way it should be, but the reality is that the tower revealed to God not only what man could do, but the importance of what God needed to accomplish in and for us.  It was God’s plan for His Son Jesus Christ to come into this world and walk among us, eat with us, heal the sick and downtrodden and ultimately teach the people what God wanted to accomplish through Him.  This is why Jesus Christ coming and dying on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind is ultimately so important.

But of what consequence is that for us today?  I return to the tower outside of our church.  What is on top of the tower of our church?  For those of you who may not have looked up for a long time, it is a Celtic Cross.  We here at Emmanuel lift high the Cross of Christ today not only to honor Jesus Christ for His sacrifice for all of us, but as a reminder for all of us of the First Commandment and the towers that we build in our own individual lives. 

Just as the people in Genesis could not build a tower to reach God, we cannot by our own self-righteousness reach God and work out our own salvation.  We are unable to build a bridge between man and God.  We build towers today whether as radio, television, buildings or even bell towers for churches or even steeples.  But our building a church or a tower is only for what is under heaven, it cannot reach to heaven.

If we build on Christ as our foundation and lift Him up and put Him at the top of our tower in our lives, in our interaction with one another in our response to what God has done for each of us then we follow the First Commandment and show that we have no other God than Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God the Father Who created us, God the Son Who redeems us and God the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith.  This is our reality and why our tower will never get to God, but by lifting God in His Son Jesus Christ up not only as a reminder but as our witness of the salvation offered through Jesus Christ for all of mankind, including all of us saints in Goodland and that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script