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Sunday, October 27, 2013

10272013 22nd 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.

Today is Reformation Sunday!  October 31, 1517 we as a congregation and as Lutherans celebrate because Martin Luther, pounded the 95 Thesis on the door at Wittenberg.  On that day, Martin Luther stood up to the Roman Catholic Church and said, in essence, we have a problem, we need a solution and we need to talk about it.  The faith that Martin Luther had learned about as a young boy, studied in the monastery, been challenged by his own thoughts, his contemporaries and even the people he held dear had led him to this juncture in his life.  Plagued by questions of scripture, doctrine and simple faith and its application to life, Martin Luther stood before the authorities of the church and stated the immortal words, ‘here I stand, I can do no other.’  It was upon the Word of God that Martin Luther took his stand.  The main issue of contention was about indulgences and whether one could earn salvation.  This came as a result of Luther watching the sale of indulgences by the church in order to build a cathedral, instead teaching people the scriptural truth of relying upon the grace of God found in Jesus Christ.  In essence, Martin Luther placed his faith on the one thing that would not change, would not pass away, that moth, fire and fear could not rob anybody of, the truth found in the Word of God manifest in Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary.  And Luther standing on this truth found in scripture began the Protestant Reformation that we celebrate today.

But what does Martin Luther have to do with a ‘fire safe’ and how does that relate to our series on the Ten Commandments, specifically the Ninth Commandment?  Let’s pull out our bulletin insert and join together as descendants of Luther’s and read together in unison the “What does this mean?” section as a congregation.  “The Ninth Commandment, You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.”  Let’s ask God in prayer to bless our time together and enable us to answer the question, ‘what do we hold dear?’

Let us pray, Lord God heavenly Father, just as You inspired Martin Luther to take a stand for honoring You and Your sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, enable us look at the gift of Your Son You offer freely unto us as the grace intended.  Help us to not covet what our neighbors have, but hold safe and dear this free gift of grace offered by You of our salvation offered by Your life, death and resurrection.  For this only occurs because of Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning in celebration of Reformation Sunday.  AMEN.

The question, ‘what do we hold dear’ is very personal for each and every one of us.  For some, it is items that will fit into a box like the fire safe before us.  Others of us hold very dear items like books, memento’s, heirlooms or even the farm ground that our ancestors worked or our houses that we were raised in, that clearly will not fit into a fire safe box.  For some it may be what we hide in our pillows, mattresses or in the mason jars buried in the back yard, or even in the secret compartment in our bed room, house or shop where we hide our family’s jewels or in our cell phones or on our computer where the dirty little secret is kept or hidden from plain view that no one knows about.  All of us have certain items that we hold very dear.  There is nothing wrong with this, but there is something we need to understand, these items, whether jewels, books or heirlooms, pictures or magazines will pass away, no matter if we keep them in a fire safe for safe keeping or hide them away in our phone, in a jar, mattress or secret compartment.

What we need reminded of is that the human condition of sin that we live in and with daily clearly draws us away from God and the free grace He offers us through Jesus Christ.  We are drawn away not only because of the things that separate us from God, but also those things that are a burden or mill stone around our necks.  All of these items whether large, small, that will fit in a fire safe, Sim card on our phone or computer or that encompass acres of ground or barns of machinery or items that bring us pleasure like guns, books and even our televisions and DVD players are not in and of themselves bad or evil, but what these items draw us away from is a grace filled gift from God brought to us by His Son Jesus Christ.

This fire safe can protect paper, jewels, documents and many items from the most intense fire.  It is certified by an organization that tests boxes like this for a living, but the one thing this box nor any other box like it whether for guns, or fire suppression in the shop or the fire detectors in our houses can protect us from is our seeing our neighbor and wanting what they have.

It is not only our looking at their possessions, of car, truck, tractor, home, farm ground, recreational vehicle, grades, relationships, spouse or children, but our not only thinking about it but acting upon it.  Martin Luther in this explanation of the commandment implores us to not scheme, nor try and get anything of our neighbors in any dishonest way.  And most of us would immediately chime right back at me and say, well Pastor, I haven’t made a pass at my friends wife or his kids nor tried to swindle my neighbor out of the best cows, the best ground or the best crop.  And my response would be, good, but have you thought about it?

That is the sticky point of this commandment.  We sin, not only in deed and word, but also in our thoughts.  And this is where we are truly guilty of breaking the Ninth Commandment.  Ladies if you wish your husband spent more time with you than hunting or fishing, or on the tractor or at the farm, even outside of harvest and then you spend more money that you don’t have and cause them to have to earn more money, instead of telling them what you need and desire in your relationship, you have broken the Ninth Commandment.  Men, if you make your farm your idol and believe that you are the only one who can make the farm work or produce a crop and solely carry the burden of success, you break the Ninth Commandment.  Young people if you look for fulfillment of your self-worth in what others say about you and you feel compelled by your friends to do something that you know in your heart is wrong, you have broken the Ninth Commandment.  All of mankind is guilty of breaking the Ninth Commandment, the proof is staring us in the face from society.  What hope do we Christians have then?  Of ourselves, there is no hope, but we can find hope in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ came and not only fulfilled the commandments, but serves as our role model when we encounter evil and are drawn away from God whether in thought, word or deed to break the Commandments, including the Ninth Commandment.  Jesus Christ through His innocent death on Calvary came to live a perfect life and set us free from the bondage to sin, death and the devil.  By and through Jesus Christ, we are set free from lives of sin to lives of freedom found in and through our baptism into His life, death and resurrection.  Jesus Christ offers all of us daily not only the opportunity, but the ultimate fire safe that not only protects us, but insures we will be with Him in His Kingdom for all eternity.  But the fire box Jesus offers isn’t about stuff or possessions nor is it about earthly things or matters.  Jesus Christ offers us the gift of grace that fire, rust, moth nor any other destructive agent can take away from us.  Jesus Christ offers us the identity as His children made in His image and freed through our baptism to be children of God.

Martin Luther on October 31, 1517 not only was reminding us of this gift, he was begging the church to pick back up the truth found in scripture of the grace freely offered by Jesus Christ without merit, nor without price that could not be paid in coins or indulgences.  The treasure that Martin Luther points to and that we recall today that is protected, is the truth of Holy Scripture and our remembering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Today as we gather around the table of our Lord, the offer of free grace offered to and for us is not only a reminder, but a practice and faith passed down to us today.  It began from the creation of mankind, through the prophets looking for Jesus coming, to His death on Calvary for all mankind, through Martin Luther nailing the 95 Thesis to us today as we partake of His Body and Blood for all of mankind.  This sacrifice and grace is offered for all the world, but especially for and including all of us gathered here at Emmanuel this morning celebrating Reformation Sunday.  AMEN.
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