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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

01192014 2nd Sunday After Epiphany

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.

Recently I was going through some files on my personal computer at home and found some images that were very near and dear to both Michele and I.  They weren’t of our time at Western, where we first met, or of our wedding day where we said the immortal words, ‘I do.’  Nor were they of our first house we bought and moved into.  The pictures I found were not from a camera, but from the image that was created using some amazing medical technology.  It wasn’t the fascinating journey of a camera that is swallowed that takes pictures every second for the next 12 hours as it journeys through the body, nor was it the journey that no one enjoys of the colonoscopy, where no one wants to go.  The pictures I found were from the 3D sonogram from before Sarah was born.  Remarkably these pictures showed in clear detail her eyes, nose and face and created for Michele and I a special image of what our future daughter would look like once she was born.  It also created in our mind and heart the ability for us to identify with Sarah while still in the womb.

This morning we begin our adventure and journey of learning with the Lord’s Prayer.  Last week, I asked the question are you laying down or are you going to sit up?  Meaning, not your physical posture, but your spiritual posture.  This morning, we have before us three individual and distinct objects or representations.  The first is an artistic depiction of our church, Emmanuel, the second is the symbol we are best known for with Luther’s Rose and the third is the founder of our faith family, Martin Luther.  Each of these three items are distinct, but have a connection with the First Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

Let’s pull out our bulletin insert for this morning and read responsively as a congregation the “What does this mean?”  and “How is God’s name kept holy?” sections.  “The First Petition of the Lord’s Prayer,  Hallowed be Thy name.  What does this mean?  God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.  How is God’s name kept holy?  God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it.  Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven!  But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us.  Protect us from this, heavenly Father!  Let’s go to God in prayer and ask with confidence for God to help us to keep His name in its truth and purity.

Let us pray, Gracious God, Your name is certainly hallowed in itself.  Enable us to call upon You in prayer and petition and use it rightfully in prayer and praise and not with malice, anger nor conceit.  For as Your children we are called to not profane but proclaim Your salvific deeds for all mankind through what Your Son, Jesus Christ did on Calvary for all mankind, including all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Emmanuel, Luther’s Rose and Martin Luther, each object of itself has distinct meaning and value.  Martin Luther for standing up for the faith of the Bible and proclaiming “Grace by Faith in Jesus Christ”.  Luther’s Rose as the symbol that explains perfectly the belief that Jesus Christ died for all of mankind.  And our church of Emmanuel as a beacon of this faith here in Goodland.  Each of these images in and of themselves not only are unique and tell individual stories, they have an identity which all of us can individually connect with, but collectively they highlight for us today our individual and collective identity with God and the connection we have with the First Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

Consider if you will the Lord’s Prayer taught by Jesus to His disciples was meant as a simple means of prayer.  It also begins with calling upon God’s name and “hallowing” God’s name in whatever we do or say.  I remember as a child sitting in the front pew as my Pastor, Dr. Ortner explained clearly that taking the name of the Lord in vain was not only wrong it was blaspheming and dishonoring His name.  It also was against the intent of the First Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  Needless to say his admonition and warning was enough to scare me to never take God’s name in vain, even when I slam my finger in a door, stub my toe on a piece of furniture or even stepping on one of Sarah’s toys with my bare feet.  But even though God wants us to not use His name in vain, we still do at times and in our own way.  What if we were to do that to our earthly parents?

If any of us were to curse at our parents when we were growing up we either received a thorough rinsing of the mouth with soap, a quick hard slap either across the mouth or our backsides or we may have even felt the sting of the strap, whether their belt, a paddle or even the strap that hung by the bathroom sink to sharpen Dad’s razor.  We immediately understood what respect was all about and how if we talked in this way, we immediately would know we had done wrong.  Please understand I am not condoning any of these responses, but I want all of us to realize this is how our earthly Fathers and Mothers reacted.

But let’s ask the question, do we parents have the same reaction from our Heavenly Father?  Definitely not.  But the reality is that we have or we know of people that take God’s name in vain.  So how can we instead of using God’s name in vain, hallow His name and keep it holy?

For Martin Luther, he kept God’s name holy by holding fast to his faith.  When he stood before the Emperor and stood firm in his faith saying, ‘Here I stand, I can do no other’, he honored God and hallowed the faith given to him in Baptism.  Luther made his declaration and kept God’s name holy and blameless and honored God with not only his determination, but his firm belief in ‘grace by faith.’

The explanation of Luther’s Rose clearly illuminates the faith we share daily in our word and witness.  Whether the white rose and the purity, the spikes representing the wounds of Christ, the heart and how God enters our heart and the cross is the central part of our faith.  This is just one of the symbols that we not only use in teaching the faith, but how we honor God and His name.

And finally as we gather here today we honor God’s Name in our celebrating the Lord’s Supper.  Our remembering the feast He instituted on the night He was betrayed not only strengthens us, but it empowers us to understand our faith as our communion with Him.  Our identity is no longer a matter of opinion, but a reality that clearly expresses our conviction of faith found in Martin Luther, the symbols of faith we have, but especially in our faith here at Emmanuel.

This is perfectly expressed by our sign that we have announcing our presence in our community here in Goodland, not only with our outward expression in the Films of Faith we will enjoy today of October Baby, but also on our front yard.  Last week the men of the church took down our outward expression of the Nativity, but what still remains is a more permanent expression, it is our sign.  Our sign includes Martin Luther in the name Lutheran, the seal we use to teach the faith, but also our name of Emmanuel as our declaration of keeping God’s name holy here in Goodland.  May we always keep God’s name holy for His Name offers us salvation through His Son Jesus Christ for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning, ‘hallowing His name.’  AMEN.
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