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Thursday, February 6, 2014

02022014 Presentation of our Lord, 4th 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.

If one were to go up to the hospital and enter into the Physical Therapy Department, which many of us here this morning have done, you find that there are parallel bars, weights, stretchy bands and an exercise bike that is used on a daily basis.  Whether it is rehabbing a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder, knee surgery, hip or knee replacement or an injury that happened while lifting the groceries, shoveling grain out of the pit to prepare for harvest or while trying to get that one problem cow back into the coral, Jack and all of the therapists have the right tools needed to not only strengthen, but recondition the body back to health.

This morning we have before us a pair of crutches, a walker and a cane.  You might wonder, are we turning the church into a rehab facility?  But really each of these items is a good symbol for the Third 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 will done?” sections.  “The Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer,  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  What does this mean?  The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.  How is God’s will done?  God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die.  This is His good and gracious will.  Let us ask for God’s will to be done.

Let us pray, Gracious God, with our prayer we ask that Your will be done in our lives.  We ask for Your perfect plan to be fulfilled for each of us.  Strengthen and keep us firm in Your Word and faith until we enter Your Kingdom and spend eternity with You.  For this only occurs because of what Your Son, Jesus Christ did for all of mankind on Calvary, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

When Michele and I were first married, her siblings and my brothers all either had children or began to have kids around the same time, with us being last.  One of the interesting things that we always talked about was that when the children were little they began to crawl on all fours, then as they grew they began to walk and run on their own two feet.  And we would joke and kid our parents at least on Michele’s side that one day they would need what I have before us today, sometimes crutches or a cane and eventually a walker.

These items are a great symbol for us today for the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  When we teach our children to pray initially we use simple prayers, like “Now I lay me down to sleep”, we teach them table prayers of “Come Lord Jesus” or “God is great, God is good” and eventually we teach them the Lord’s Prayer.  Each prayer builds upon the other and connects the importance of not only keeping God in our lives, but insuring we do so on a daily basis.

The Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, exposes another importance of our need to pray for God’s will to be done.  God’s will is done simply as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, with our being made holy by God, also known as sanctification.  If you were to ask either our spouses or children, this may be a rare occasion, even for me.  But the reality is, God makes us Holy with our belief in the forgiveness of sins and that Jesus Christ died for us.  God is the action agent here, we cannot and do not do this on our own, we are unable to, but God fulfills this for us.  And the fruits are here that we partake of around the altar with our receipt of His precious Body and Blood, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.

But, why a pair of crutches, a cane and a walker?  Ironically, each of these items are meant to be an aid for mobility, whether walking or for some of just independence.  They provide stability, a stable platform and the ability to move with surety when our balance may be a little out of whack or we are weak.  And this petition is the exact same, it is the stability that we need as we walk and live in this world, since we are Christians and not of this world.  We can use the Lord’s Prayer to stabilize our lives and this petition especially reminds us of the importance of God as we encounter the sinful world that we live in today.

We need the stability and knowledge of God’s will being done, but also and more importantly that God’s will is done ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.  In our praying this, we are asking God to perfectly fulfill here on earth God’s plan here on earth.  Not a plan for us to have all the greatest toys, the biggest house or the best farm, which is the envy of our neighbors or friends we meet down at the elevator or for coffee.  Nor is it to have the best kids, the greatest sports legends of Goodland nor the most welcoming family.  God’s will is for salvation to be fulfilled for all of mankind.  Remember what Paul said, the importance is found when we remember it is for all of us to be ‘made holy’.  And this only occurs with our going to God in prayer and asking Him for His will to be done.

But what does a pair of crutches, a cane and a walker have to do with our being made holy.  Just as we go from crawling on all four as babies, to two feet as toddlers and adults to three with our mobility with canes or walkers as older adults our faith walk is no different.  In our faith walk some of us either are still crawling on all fours, hobbling around and in need of crutches because we are the walking wounded, or we need a cane to steady us because of the winds of life.  As we walk and journey with our faith, each of us individually has hurts that we carry and that burden us and sometimes even overwhelm us.

Personally, I at one time needed a walker for my faith, because of what I had experienced in my own personal and professional life.  I needed a spiritual walker to steady me and help me pray this petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  After using the walker for a time, I moved to a cane to continue to steady me and help me strengthen my muscles of faith and finally I again walked without any aid.  But this is the struggle that we as Christians undergo and experience in our daily lives and need support to walk through.

This is why I as your Pastor am here to walk with you, to journey with you and to be the light of Christ for you.  I have personally been in the depths of despair, I have fallen in the pit, I have experienced being separate from God.  It is not a good feeling and God wants all of us to pray this petition so we can be free and live as a Child of God.  You may need the spiritual walker or crutches to hobble as you spiritually heal or a cane to steady yourself.  And the Lord’s Prayer is not only this aid, but the way and means that we heal from life as we experience it and are healed by it with our use of the Lord’s Prayer.

May we as we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, be reminded that God’s will is fulfilled with our relying upon Him and using Him as our walker, crutches and cane.  And when we come and partake of His precious Body and Blood as we do today, this meal will strengthen us and enable us to not only be strengthened, but also healed as we prepare for our entrance into heaven.  For these are the promises that have been fulfilled through Jesus Christ, Who came, lived and died in order that all of mankind might be saved.  Especially including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel who need spiritual crutches, walkers and canes to help us pray with surety “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  AMEN.

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