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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

11172013 2nd Last Sunday of the Church Year

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.

Have you ever read a book and when you turned the page everything changes.  Not only the actions of the characters, but the scenes, the scenery, the overall feel of the book, but especially how the story now makes you feel?  This morning, we literally and figuratively are turning a page in our journey through the Catechism.  Having finished the review of the Ten Commandments the landscape now changes and the tenor of the story takes on new meaning.  When we look at the Ten Commandments, they are the Law as presented by God through Moses.  The Ten Commandments were the Ten Imperatives that God wanted His chosen people to follow.  But today, we turn the page, not only to a new chapter that is still connected to the Law, but to a new opportunity to understand not just the flip side of the Law, but the perfect fulfillment of the Law in the Gospel as explained in the Apostle’s Creed.  But why are there pens, markers, glue, scissors, paper, paint and paint brushes up front here this morning?

Before I tell you more, let’s pull out our bulletin insert and join together and read together in unison the What does this mean” sections as a congregation.  “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  What does this mean?  I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ear and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.  He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all that I have.  He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.  He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.  All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.  For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.  This is most certainly true.”  While this sinks into our hearts, let us ask God in prayer to bless His message for each and every one of us here today.

Let us pray, Almighty Father, You have made heaven and earth and all of creation from nothing, You fashioned all of us and call us to not only be Your children, but redeem us through Your Son Jesus Christ.  Enable us today to lay claim to Your redeeming work begun in Creation when You made the World and fulfilled in Your Son’s coming to save us from our sins.  For this is the offer You make to us through Your Son Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

If we were to give a child a clean piece of paper, a pair of scissors, some glue and a bunch of crayons and let them draw, color, cut or create anything their minds can imagine, we would have numerous different individual creations.  The depth of their imagination, the breadth of their differing styles and abilities would make any parent excited to see what their child made and what their imagination could create.

So to this morning we learn not only what our God created, but clearly we have turned a page in our journey and exploration of Luther’s Catechism.  We have turned the page from the Law to the Gospel.  If you remember your learning about Luther’s Catechism, the two most important doctrines found in scripture were the Law and the Gospel.  Like two sides of a coin, the Law is meant to kill, but the Gospel is meant to save.  This is the offer of grace that God offers to us today of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed we begin at Genesis with the Creation of the World, hence why I not only have pens, paper and scissors here up front, but also why I began with the illustration of letting the children create from their imagination.  This is a window into what God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit did when they created the heavens and the earth.  As Hebrews 11:3 states, “3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”  God through the creative process and speaking into existence our world offers unto all of us gathered here today the greatest gift.  Not only is the gift of our world that we live in today, but it is also the gift of salvation.

With all foresight and knowledge God knew sin would enter into the world and because we have free will God chose to allow mankind to sin in order to show His ultimate love for all of mankind.  God’s love is clearly manifest in creation, but also in what He offers us through His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  God offers us His Son, Jesus Christ to die in order that we might live.  This gift given from the beginning of creation was foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament, the giving of the Law in the Ten Commandments and fulfilled by Jesus Christ when He went to the Cross in order to die for each of us.

In the Creation of the World, God knew what would happen and in His divine plan God orchestrated our redemption through Jesus Christ.  And not only are we given clothes, food, drink, home, wife, children, land and all things, God even goes the extra mile of sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ in order that we might be with Him in His Kingdom for eternity.  And we have been called through our baptism into God’s promise and now can be partakers of eternal life like Esther who received Christian burial yesterday.

Does this mean we can ‘create our own story’, be God in some form or fashion?  By no means, but what it does mean is that we can lay claim to the promises of God and believe that these promises are made to and for all of us.  We cannot and do not have the power, nor the right, nor ability to create our own redemption.  But God does call us to believe in the redemption offered to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  And this gift is made manifest when we hear, heed and hold tight to the Gospel of Salvation offered through the work of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives.

And today we not only lay claim to the work of the Holy Spirit, we also celebrate what God does for each and every one of us as we partake of His precious Body and Blood around the table of our Lord.  As we partake of Jesus Christ Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper we not only affirm the belief in what God created in the heavens and earth, but we affirm the plan of salvation offered in Jesus Christ.  This gift of eternal life that is offered for us clearly was created from the creation of the world.  Not with pens, paper and glue and scissors, but with the Word of God manifest in the Word made Flesh, Jesus Christ.  This is the fulfillment in our receipt of the Lord’s Supper of the plan of salvation which is offered to and for all of mankind, but especially and including all of us saints that are gathered here this morning at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
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