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Monday, March 31, 2014

03302014 Fourth Sunday in Lent (Lent 4)

Gospel Reading 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.

This Spring farmers will perform a task that involves Faith.  If one was not raised on a farm, lived in a farming community, or grew up having experienced growing one’s own garden, you might not understand.  Yet, when a farmer plants a seed they not only use the muscle of faith in the potential within the seed, but trust that their planting will yield a harvest.  Whether it is of corn as is planted in the Spring, winter wheat in the fall that needs winter to give a good harvest or barley or sunflowers.  The action of planting a seed is the clearest expression of faith that we have here on the plains of Northwestern Kansas in what God will do.  But our planting of seeds is a perfect Segway for us to understand our having “Faith in God’s Promises” as well.

Let’s pull out our bulletin insert for this morning and continue in our learning about the Sacrament of Holy Baptism by reading the response to the question, “How can water do such great things?”  The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, How can water do such great things?  Certainly not just water, but the Word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this Word of God in the water.  For without God’s Word the water is just plain water and no baptism.  But with the Word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  This is a trustworthy saying.”  Let’s ask God to help us understand the seed planted in our own baptism as we go to Him in prayer.

Gracious God, Your Word combined with Water offers us eternal life and salvation.  May we understand that Your planting the seed of faith in us is because You can see the fruit that will be harvested from our lives and Your Work through us.  Enable us to be not only planters, but harvesters, for the harvest is plentiful of Your gifts given to all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

The destructive nature of water is not unknown, just as the constructive nature of water for farmers here in Northwestern Kansas is clearly documented.  Some among us know all to well the difference in having an irrigation pivot running during the peak growth time of corn.  It can either add to the weight and quality or adversely impact its growth and the harvest in the fall.  If you doubt, just drive around some fields this summer and see the outer rings of corn that don’t receive the moisture, but are exposed to the wind.  But a bountiful harvest only occurs because of the faith of the farmer who planted the seed in the first place.

Without the seed being planted by the farmer, no corn would emerge, no crop would grow and farms here around Goodland would cease to exist.  In a clear and unmistakable way the farmer in planting the seed initiates the greatest testament to faith.  But faith in what?  Simply a faith that the seed will germinate and grow and have a harvest.

In the same way when we baptize an individual, whether an adult or especially a child or infant.  We as a congregation are part of planting a seed of faith in their lives.  Hence, I have before us this morning, not only seeds from wheat, but also corn and milo.  It is for us a reminder that we as a congregation are planting the seeds of faith in the lives of the children that are baptized in this very font.

When we plant the seed, it is in response to what God has already planted in our lives by someone else seeing it as important to pass down their faith.  Passing down the faith is something that is extremely imperative and we need reminded of what God offers us in our faith and by our baptism.  When we baptize it is in the promises of life and salvation that are intimately connected with Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  These are the promises that we receive.  With the number of funerals we have had recently, I have had the opportunity to continuously remind the families of God’s promises made in baptism as the seeds that were sown so long ago.  And what is ironic is that what we experience is not the seed when we mourn the passing of someone, but of something more important and faithful.

We see the harvest when mourn at the passing of someone we know and love.  The harvest in their death is now complete, the promise made with our sowing the seed at baptism, where Water and Word intimately connected was planted has now come to full maturity.  The harvest is complete.  The person that we will lay to rest has in most cases lived a full life, providing for family, teaching the difference between right and wrong, imparting the faith to their children and having heard clearly and consistently the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Not only have they heard it, but they also shared it and insured their children and the children of the entire congregation have heard the Word of God that tells of the promises of God.  And now they can rest from their labor and now are the ‘harvest’ from the seeds that were sown.

But it was the planting of the seed of faith in Holy Baptism that God initiated in those baptized and us the greatest gift of grace the world has ever seen.  In this gift of grace that tells of Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection, the Gospel message is planted and God makes it grow.  We are fed by God’s Word, His Sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and the blessings we receive as this seed of faith is nourished and grows from its planting in Holy Baptism.  For clearly God knows what will occur when the seed of faith is planted, thus all we need to do is plant this seed and trust God to bring it to the harvest.  And our trust in God is clear when we plant the seed, for it is for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel who daily plant the seed of faith of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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