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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

11102013 Third to the Last Sunday of the Church Year

Gospel Audio

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 we are at a milestone.  Not the kind of milestone like climbing Pike’s Peak or Mount Everest, finishing the Appalachian Trail either in Georgia or Maine or even the milestone of finishing corn, milo or soybean harvest for this year.  The milestone we cross today is our completion of the Ten Commandments.  It may seem insignificant, but in our review of the 6 Chief Parts of Luther’s Small Catechism, this is definitely a milestone in our learning more about God’s Commands.  For today we conclude the Law section of the Small Catechism, where God is telling us what we are commanded to do.

However, why would we have KU and K-State paraphernalia as well as the plaque that honors our military and those who served from here at Emmanuel up front here and what does that have to do with the Close of the Commandments?  Before we make this neat connection, let’s pull out our bulletin insert and join together and read together in unison both of the sections “What does God say about all these commandments? And the What does this mean” sections as a congregation.  “What does God say about all these commandments?  He says: “I, the Lord Your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  What does this mean?  “God threatens to punish all who break these commandments.  Therefore, we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them.  But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments.  Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.”  As the true meaning and connection of the Close of the Commandments sets in, let us ask God in prayer to bless His message for each and every one of us here today.

Let us pray, Merciful Lord, You clearly call us to not only heed Your Word, but understand that You are a jealous God and punish all of mankind for our sin, even to the third and fourth generation.  But clearly you have shown all of mankind love, mercy and grace because of what Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ has done on the Cross of Calvary.  May we be reminded of Your promise of grace and mercy and enabled to trust in You more fully for our salvation for all of mankind, but especially for and including all of us gathered here at Emmanuel on this Veterans Day Weekend.  AMEN.

If I were to quote the following, “I shall see this great sight, why the bush does not burn (Ex. 3:3)” or “Rule by Obeying Nature’s Laws”, or “In Christ’s Love, Everyone is Someone”, or “Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Scripture Alone” or “In God We Trust” what do each of these sayings have in common?  And do you know where each of them comes from?

In order, the first is the KU motto, ironically biblical from the Old Testament in origin, the second, K-State motto agricultural in nature, the third is the motto of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society which we have here in Goodland, next is the motto of all Lutherans and the basis for our faith and finally the last is the motto that is on every piece of currency that is legally used in the United States.  What each of these has in common is that they are not only motto’s of schools, societies, countries and movements, they are a mantra or battle cry or perfect summation of the beliefs, values and ideals of each organization or group of people, whether KU, K-State, Good Samaritan, the Lutheran church or what the United States believes in and was founded upon.

This morning as we reach the milestone of completing the Law from the tablets Moses brought down the mountain as explained in the 10 Commandments further explained by Martin Luther, we encounter not just a motto, but a perfect summation of the entire Law of the 10 Commandments as found in the Close of the Commandments.  Mottos are not just sayings but have an intrinsic meaning that we display, whether on crests of families, schools, state seals, dealership or seed dealer hats or even our money.  In our displaying these they not only become who we are, but are our identifiers and give us meaning and connection with others.  Such as when we see someone wearing K-State or KU colors, Case or John Deere, Pioneer or Fontanelle.  So to with the Close of the Commandments and what they really mean.

In the Close of the Commandments Martin Luther was trying to give a clear summation and reminder of the history of Christianity and the church, but also the promises of God.  Clearly God, creator of the universe has every right to punish us for disobeying Him, but notice God also clearly and emphatically says He will show ‘love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.’  We are included in this thousand generations, we are the descendants of Moses and the Old Testament people and have been grafted into the promises of God through our Baptism.

Just as we are grafted into the promises of the family of God, we are also reminded that we should fear God, but also lay claim to the promise God makes to us of grace and every blessing.  So clearly, God wants us to be blessed and receive the gift of grace and mercy He offers to us in His Son, Jesus Christ.  But how do we lay claim to it and how does all of this KU and K-State paraphernalia and the list of veterans fit into this?

Today we not only celebrate the milestone of the Close of the Commandments, we also celebrate Veterans Day.  Not only do the schools that we honor when we wear the paraphernalia, remember the mottos and have our individual rivalry, but also the sacrifice of the warriors who have laid down their lives and defended our nations freedom in order for us to come here and worship today.  The Close of the Commandments connects today, because just as mottos are a summation or battle cry for schools, what we close with today is to be a reminder of God’s gift of grace and mercy given to each and every one of us today.  The Close of the Commandments are to be our battle cry, our motto, our reminder of how God intersects our lives and wants us to rely solely upon Him in every aspect of our lives.  God wants us to understand He would love it if we kept His Commandments perfectly, but He understands our nature and says, I have a plan for you and part of the plan includes the military who protect our rights daily with their lives and service.

The plan from God was instituted from the Garden of Eden, through the wilderness where the Commandments were given, by the prophets telling of Who would be coming and finally fulfilled in the grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.  It is in, through and by this perfect plan and Jesus innocent death for you and for me that we receive the greatest gift of mercy and grace.  And it is through and by our trust in Him that we find the ultimate fulfillment in our lives that is the blessing offered for each and every one of us today by Jesus Christ.

And our military in serving with their oath, pledge and motto’s remind them Who they really serve.  Not only do they serve their country, they serve God Who called them into the profession of service in the military.  Let me share with you the motto’s of our military.  The Coast Guard’s is, “Always Ready”, the Army, “This We’ll Defend”, The Navy, “Honor, Courage, Commitment”, the Merchant Marines, “Deeds not Words”, the Air Force, “Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do” and the Marine Corp, “Always Faithful”.  These are the motto’s of those who serve our country.  The motto that God offers us in the Close of Commandments is also very clear, of forgiveness, grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.  This is the gift offered to us today that we lay claim to that is offered for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel who honor, not only the military today, but who honor God’s gift and sacrifice for all of us saints gathered today in Jesus Christ, life, death and resurrection that we have been baptized into.  AMEN.

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