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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

12082013 2nd Sunday of Advent

Gospel Reading
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.

What would you do if you were king or queen for a day?  Throw your enemies in jail, give yourself a raise or become the boss at your place of work or business.  Buy the most expensive toys that money could afford, like a new King Cab Truck, a fancy new snowmobile for this winter.  Would you buy a new house or go on an elaborate vacation.  You could do so much if you were just the King or Queen and in charge.

When Victoria, future ruler and Queen of England was a child, she did not know of her destiny and she could not be motivated to follow directions, learn her lessons, nor adequately prepare her for the role that she would play as ruler of England.  Frustrated, her instructors and tutors could not help her to see nor understand the importance of learning nor the weight of the entire kingdom that would be upon her shoulders when she ruled her sovereign nation.  It was not until they sat the future queen down and told her of her true destiny that she responded, “Then I will be good.”  The realization that struck her with their revelation of her high calling and future, gave her a sense of responsibility that profoundly affected her conduct from that moment on and for the rest of her life.

This morning we have before us one of the seats from here in the chancel, the front of the church by the altar.  As we continue in our learning from the Second Article of the Apostle’s Creed, this article deals specifically with Jesus Christ.  And how Jesus Christ not only came down from heaven to live, teach and die for us, but He returned to heaven and sits on the throne in heaven waiting to come again.  But why a throne and what impact is that for we the residents of Goodland, Kansas today?  Simply, of what significance is a throne for us today?

As this question fires your neurons in your brain, let’s pull out our bulletin insert and join together and read together in unison the “What does this mean” sections as a congregation.  “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  The Third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.  What does this mean?  I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.  This is most certainly true.”  While the image of Jesus sitting on the Throne gains greater importance, let us seek God’s divine favor in prayer.

Let us pray, Gracious Lord and ruler of the earth.  As we look to Your throne of Grace, may our hearts be turned and our lives blessed by not only Your presence, but the peace You offer to us through Your gift of grace.  Enable us to hear Your call through the Holy Spirit and look at Your throne, not in fear, but in anticipation of our welcome into Your kingdom for all of the saints, including all of us gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

One of the television shows that has become very popular in the last few years is entitled “Game of Thrones”.  It is of the rise and fall of an empire around a family of nobles and the twists and turns of each attempting to ascend to the throne.  The most iconic symbol of the entire show and as the title of the program indicates it is the throne.  Not a seat like we have here, this morning, but one that is ornate, exudes power and strength due to the numerous swords that surround the seat of power.  But as has been shown, the throne holds people’s attention, but also that true power comes not from the throne itself, but from the individual who sits on the throne.

So for us in Christianity, the true power of the throne is not the item or our image or imagination of it, but the person Who sits in or on the throne.  And for us that is Jesus Christ.  As we look to Jesus Christ as we hear and learn more about the Second Article of the Apostle’s Creed, we begin to realize that Jesus Christ did come and live among us on earth.  He walked with His disciples between the cities in Israel.  Fished with them on the Sea of Galilee, sat and ate with tax collectors and sinners and even turned water into wine.  But we might have a challenge understanding Jesus Christ also sitting on the throne and its true understanding for us today here in Goodland, KS.

For some, a throne like in Game of Thrones is not about doing what is best for all, but ‘lording it over people’.  This past week at Ministerial Alliance we talked about how the town of Goodland is on a ‘power trip’.  How everyone looks out for themselves and what they can get, but not the collective good of the community.  The challenge we have during this Advent season is to change this reality.  This is the difference that Jesus Christ makes for all of us gathered here at Emmanuel.  When He came down from the throne to the earth, He was looking out for the good of all of mankind.  Jesus Christ came to sacrifice Himself in order to set all of us free from sin, death and the devil.  He gave up His power seat on the throne of God to set all of us free.  This is the gift of grace that we partake of and are baptized into.  Our personal and individual goal should not be about power, nor authority, nor lording it over anyone, but only concentrated upon the gift of grace God offers to each of us through His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.

Clearly this is a mind-set change.  It is a change that we need to see, understand and make a reality in Goodland, but also here at Emmanuel.  As we prepare during Advent for the coming of the Christ child, may we not only change the decorations, like the Christmas tree, the wreaths, the paraments, the manger scene and the anticipation of the Christmas program.  May we also change our hearts and not only welcome the gift of grace God offers in His Son Jesus Christ, but embrace God’s grace and look with anticipation of the throne that Jesus will return to, but also that we will be invited to see and partake of with our entrance into eternal life.  For when we look to the throne with the lens of God’s grace for mankind, we look with anticipation of what God can do for all of us through His Son Jesus Christ.

For you history buffs, you have probably heard the name, Charlemagne.  He was the great king and Emperor of France.  When he died in 814, he was buried in a very elaborate tomb, with all of the ‘niceties’ of someone rich, including treasures of the kingdom and many other relics.  Years later when archeologists entered into this sacred space, they found in the center of the vault a large marble throne where Charlemagne was seated, now nothing more than a skeleton.  On his lap, wasn’t a sword or a scepter or what most would expect from a King, sitting there was a Holy Bible.  It was opened to one passage with his finger pointing to a specific reference from Matthew 18:26.  It read, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

So to for us this morning, if we place ourselves on the throne for our own profit to lord it over others to gain the world, we have lost our own soul.  May we in true humility come to the throne of God and understand clearly it is God’s throne not ours, and Jesus Christ came down from the throne to set us free.  For this is the gift of God given by His Son Jesus Christ for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning preparing for our celebration of His coming for you and for me.  AMEN.

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