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Monday, September 23, 2013

09222013 17th Sunday After Trinity

Sermon Audio

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.

On April 18, 1942 a group of 80 men were poised on the carrier USS Hornet in the Pacific Ocean about to make history.  Not 5 months earlier the United States territory of Hawaii had been brutally attacked at Pearl Harbor, and now this group of men who volunteered for this mission were risking their lives in what some government officials felt was a suicide bombing mission on mainland Japan.  Led by Lt. Colonel James Doolittle 16 B-25 bombers were fueled and loaded with bombs and munitions that would eventually fall upon both Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan as a means to bolster the morale of the United States after the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on two fronts.  As history records out of 80 men who volunteered for this mission, three when caught by the Japanese were executed the others that survived the crash of their plane were held captive until rescue by American troops in 1945 and 69 escaped capture or death on mainland China and the Soviet Union.

This story of heroism we remember this morning because it is a poignant lesson of duty and honor.  It epitomizes the sacrifice that was made by individuals in all military branches and that we honor for the duty epitomized in our heroes from here at Emmanuel.  But why is their service and are they important for us this morning as we begin the second table of the Law of the Ten Commandments?  For what reason does their sacrifice or the sacrifice for any of the heroes here at Emmanuel have for us today?  In order to more fully understand and hear the importance of our heroes, both men and women who have served in the line of duty, follow along as I read the Fourth Commandment and its explanation from our bulletin insert.  “Honor your father and mother.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”  Let us pray for God to speak to each of us about the Fourth Commandment.

Gracious Lord, it is clear that we are under authority whether in the world, school, job, church or even the home, but each of the authorities in our lives were placed over us by You to help us understand our need for accountability.  For You held Your Son, Jesus Christ accountable for our sins and this has set us free, not to act in any manner we would like, but to understand our lives are redeemed by Your Son’s innocent Blood.  Enable us to honor You and His sacrifice for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Before us today sit, not just uniforms, but ribbons and meritorious service commendations that were earned by some of our military veterans of Emmanuel.  We also have the list of veterans who served in all of the branches of the military that were members here at Emmanuel.  These are just a small indication of the honors afforded them for their service to our country in order to give us the opportunity to gather here at Emmanuel and freely worship.  In and of themselves the uniforms as well as the ribbons to some are just clothing or decorations, but for those who earned them and remembering those who did not come home that sacrificed themselves for their buddies and who died in the line of duty or were left behind as killed in action or missing in action, changes our perspective as the true meaning of duty and honor.

The Fourth Commandment we know speaks plainly about our individual relationship with Father and Mother and how we are to ‘honor’ them.  There are times that as children and adults we do not honor God nor our parents.  We do not honor them because of our pride, arrogance and our sinful nature.  We do not treat our parents with the honor they deserve and that God demands of us in the Fourth Commandment.  Not only are we guilty of dishonoring our parents, we also even dishonor other authorities that God has placed over us.  Whether it is teachers in the classroom, our boss at work and even our own government when we speed down the interstate or do not come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign or light.  We are all guilty of this in some form or fashion.  We dishonor God and those that have been put in authority over us.  We clearly break the Fourth Commandment.

To make this even clearer and have a deeper impact it would be tantamount of my taking all of these medals, honors, commendations and uniforms and even the Flag and burning them.  This would bring instant outrage and dislike directed right at me, and rightfully so.  We have experienced that here at Emmanuel when the Flag was ‘removed from the church’.  It caused clear discontent and hatred not only at the person who did that, but did not honor nor reflect the clear sense of honor and values collectively felt by everyone here at the church, of our history and even our collective belief in respecting not only the flag, but what it stood for and what our men and women were willing to fight to defend for each of us today.  But how is that any different than talking behind people’s backs, our unwillingness to tell how we actually feel, or spreading rumors and innuendo?  It is no different it is breaking the Fourth Commandment by dishonoring those who are living their lives with us daily as we journey with each other through our lives here in Goodland and even here in the church at Emmanuel.

Yet, even Jesus Who was God incarnate had to follow the Fourth Commandment.  Having human parents even Jesus had to not only listen and obey His parents, but also the leaders of the church that were His authority here on earth.  Let me say clearly, Jesus Christ did not break the Fourth Commandment, but fulfilled it and all of the commandments in perfect obedience of His Father in heaven.  With His every breath, Jesus Christ lived a life that not only honored His Father and others in authority, He even lived a life that was worthy of honoring by you and me and all of mankind.

Jesus Christ in His humble and willing obedience endured the shame, ridicule, the scourging, the insults, the worst abuse any man could endure and carried the Cross He would be nailed to on Golgotha through the streets of Jerusalem in order to set us free from sin, death and the devil.  Jesus Christ endured all of this in order to set all of us free.  This is the sacrifice that Jesus Christ was willing to make for us.  But why and how does that relate not only to the 4th Commandment, but to each of us today?

Simply, because of Jesus Christ perfect obedience, we are set free from the sins that bind us.  Does this mean we no longer sin?  By no means, but it does mean that with this realization sin no longer has the same control over us.  We are freed to be God’s children, honor our parents, honor those who sacrificed for each of us and celebrate their sacrifice, like we are today.  You see the sacrifice that Jesus Christ offers us today is the perfect model for us and how His sacrifice was the perfect sacrifice for all time.  It was this offer for each and every one of us that reminds us and enables us to understand true humility and obedience and enables us to honor not only God for His offer of the forgiveness of sins for all mankind, but also enables us to honor those who are in authority over us as the Fourth Commandment directs us.  And this is not limited to our parents, but all those who are an authority over us, whether teachers, church council, policeman, pastors, aunts, uncles and even our government.

The reason I told the story about the Doolittle Raiders is that earlier this year, three of the four remaining raiders gathered for one last public ceremony to honor and toast the other members who have entered the church triumphant.  In complete honor for their sacrifice, these men and the public gathered to not only pay respect and tribute, but remember and honor the true sacrifice they and their comrades made as they flew off the deck of the USS Hornet.  So to this morning we gather here at Emmanuel to remember and honor the sacrifice not only of our military members represented by these ribbons, uniforms and plaques, but also all those who fought to insure our freedoms and carry wounds that cannot be seen for men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice in humble obedience to the Fourth Commandment. 

We also gather especially to be reminded that Jesus sacrifice was not only for a select few, but for all of humanity.  Jesus Christ fulfilling the Fourth Commandment was not only a model for us, but a reminder for each of us of His perfect obedience and how we can honor Him and all authorities.  By, through and in our gathering this morning honoring not only the Doolittle Raiders, but also those who served in the military, public offices of government and even our parents, teachers and local rulers even here in the church, we can attempt to fulfill the Fourth Commandment.  But it is only through Jesus life, death and resurrection for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel that we truly will experience the grace freely offered for each and every one of us from Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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