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Sunday, March 2, 2014

03022014 Quinquagesima Sunday

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 we find this box sitting on our front steps, some of us know the symbol and that means only one thing, we have ordered something from Amazon and they have delivered.  Whether it is supplies for the house, new clothes that we just had to have, or the latest electronics gear that would have required us to go to Denver to get, but instead we had Amazon deliver it to our door step.  We look forward to the mystery of what is in the box and taking it out and seeing what Amazon sent and UPS delivered to our front door.

So to in the Christian life, when we pray the Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we clearly and tangibly make our own the prayer “But deliver us from evil.”  Yet, as we pray this petition there is a truth that is not just laid in our laps, but made our very own.  Let’s pull out our bulletin insert for this morning and read responsively as a congregation the “What does this mean?” section.  “The Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, But deliver us from evil.  What does this mean?  We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.  As this petition sinks in, let us go to God in prayer and pray for our deliverance from evil.

Father in heaven, we know that we are surrounded by evil, sin and even death, but when we pray this petition we ask You to deliver us.  And the truth is You have delivered us through what Your Son Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary and we only need to lay claim to Your promises.  Enable us to understand Your offer of grace is for all of mankind, but especially including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Living in the parsonage next door to the church is an experience that Pastor’s not only joke about, but at times lament.  As a young family it is interesting when Sarah, Michele and I are in the front room of the parsonage and we hear the mail slot open and close.  Sarah excitedly exclaims, ‘mail is here’ and wants to rush to the front door and check what the postal carrier has delivered, with the hope and anticipation that she has at least one piece of mail with her name on it.  On many occasions she is disappointed, because it was either the wind opening and closing the slot or she didn’t receive any mail, but on other occasions her joy is fulfilled by having a piece of mail or better yet a package with her name on it that is especially for her.

This same joy that Sarah has with a piece of mail, we Christians should have when we come and worship in God’s house, hear His Word proclaimed in the readings and when we receive His precious Body and Blood around the altar as we will in a few minutes.  For God clearly and unmistakably is offering us the fulfillment of the promise that we pray for in this the Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  God is ‘delivering us from evil’, maybe not in the way we desire or clearly understand, but God is preparing us for our entrance into His Kingdom.  When Jesus Christ came and dwelt among us His disciples beheld His Glory, they could touch it and even interact with Him.  Unlike then we as we gather here today at Emmanuel have the greatest opportunity to not only hear God’s Word that proclaims life and salvation, we actually get to see Jesus.

A few Sunday’s ago I asked my confirmation class, have you ever seen Jesus.  There was the question of clarification by an astute student saying, ‘do you mean a picture’ and I responded ‘No.’ Hence the resounding answer was no, none of the students felt or believed they had ever seen Jesus.  Then I revealed a truth to them.  I told them that they had in fact seen Jesus many different times and even that very morning.  When we have Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper, we in fact believe that this is the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Communion, unlike for other churches is where we actually see Jesus Christ Body and Blood.  Unlike the chicken or beef that we eat that is clearly meat and poultry and feels like it, because either we butchered the cow or chicken ourselves, when we partake of Jesus Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper it is God’s Word that makes the bread and wine His Body and Blood like we will celebrate in a few minutes.  Through the Words of Institution that Jesus instituted on Maundy Thursday, God changes these simple elements of bread and wine into His precious Body and Blood that gives us the greatest gift of eternal life and fulfills the truth that we pray for in the Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

For in the Seventh Petition when we pray, “deliver us from evil” we pray for God to deliver us not only from this life, but to the life to come, eternal life, our eternal destination of heaven.  The connection of eternal life and our lives today is clear and unmistakable and the connection with our receipt of Jesus Christ Body and Blood we receive today around the altar is a delivery that far outweighs what the mail carrier brings, the UPS driver or even the FedEx delivery man puts at our doorstep.  What we receive today around the altar is a delivery upon the promises of God that the Old Testament people believed in from the Garden of Eden through the desert wilderness and we know was fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.

This is the free grace that God offers us and delivers to us daily.  But then we might ask, why then do bad things happen to us, whether accidents, bad years of drought that cause us not to have a crop or very little crop, paychecks that don’t cover medicine or is below the poverty level.  How can God allow this to occur?  When a question like this occurs, and it is on a regular basis, the simplest and easiest answer is so God’s Glory can be revealed.  We experience this, not at the hands of God, but at the hands of Satan.  God does not cause evil to occur, but as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “delivers us from evil”.  This is the promise that is fulfilled for us today as we eat His Precious Body and Blood.  Our task is only to have faith in God that His promises are fulfilled.  Clearly we may not see the fullest ramifications of fulfillment here on earth, but with our entrance into heaven, we will behold God’s Glory and be in God’s presence for all eternity.

Our lives are like a sculptor who looks at a block of stone and see’s not the square shape of the stone, but the masterpiece that will be revealed after he or she delivers each blow that chips away at the exterior.  Once complete the fullest image is revealed and the beauty seen in the vision of the sculptor becomes complete.  We who gather here today receiving the precious Gifts of Jesus Christ Body and Blood have delivered to us the greatest mystery that we can believe in faith.  And when we pray the Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from evil”, it is a delivery that comes not in an Amazon Box, but a delivery by God of His Word and Sacrament for each of us today.  For this is the fulfillment of the promises of God made for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel who pray, “deliver us from evil” and believe in these promises given by God for each and every one of us.  AMEN.
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