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Monday, April 7, 2014

040620014 Fifth Sunday in Lent (Lent 5)

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.

Growing up in rural Southside Virginia was not that different than living in Goodland, KS.  In order for us to get to a mall we had to drive, either to Richmond or Lynchburg.  To find another Lutheran church we had to drive as well, so living here on the prairies of Western Kansas is not that much of a stretch.  However, in one town that was nearby named Danville, it was over an hour drive by car and a church there had a gem that we only visited at Christmas time.  This place was special, because it was the home and humble beginnings of what is known today as Chrismons.  Matter of fact, even here at Emmanuel like many churches across the continent, we have a tradition to hang Chrismons on our Christmas tree.

Just as Esther Splattstosser and her husband and countless others in the past and even now labored to create the beautiful ornaments, one specific one not only connects with us today, but reminds us what we will be experiencing in the coming weeks.  The one ornament that is so special is the Butterfly.  In order to more fully understand our Baptism and its connection with the Butterfly, let’s pull out our bulletin insert and delve deeper into the Sacrament of Baptism.  Let’s read responsively the answers to “What does such baptizing with water indicate?” and “Where is this written?”.  The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, What does such baptizing with water indicate?  It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.  Where is this written?  St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six:  “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  In order to more fully understand our baptism, let us ask God to help us emerge in righteousness and purity.

Gracious God, through our baptism into Your life, death and resurrection, when we emerge from being washed clean, we are forever changed.  As we come closer to the celebration of Your resurrection, may we be reminded that in our baptism we emerge as well as new creatures redeemed by the blood of the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  For these promises are made for all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel who emerged because of what You have done for each of us on the Cross.  AMEN.

Before us we have a butterfly to remind us, not only of the beauty of God’s creation, but the connection of the grace offered when we emerge from the Water connected to the Word in Holy Baptism.  We emerge as new creatures redeemed by the blood of the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  Countless times in scripture when Jesus Christ either heals someone from sickness, removes a demon or evil spirit, the person emerges whole, unhindered and changed.  This is the beauty of God impacting our lives and touching us and changing us.

In nature if you have ever seen a chrysalis and watched as a butterfly emerges there is great struggle that is occurring.  And this is part of nature and God’s good order.  Yet the reality is without the struggle the butterfly would die.  Why you might ask?  Because the struggle of releasing itself builds muscles that are necessary for the butterfly to fly and get nectar and survive.

So to in the Christian life we need to exercise our muscle of faith given to us in our baptism and there are times where we need to struggle, like the butterfly. Just as when we get out of a shower or bath or even a pool of water this summer the first thing we do is wrap a towel around us to stay warm.  When we emerge our bodies have changed from its original state.  So to in the Christian life, when we emerge from baptism, like the butterfly we are a new creature, a new creation.  God in a clear way has reached down into our lives and made us new and imparted unto us the gift of the Holy Spirit in our baptism.

And today as we come and gather around the altar and receive His precious Body and Blood we receive the gifts of grace offered for each and every one of us.  We exercise the muscle of faith given in baptism and know that this was for each and every one of us.  Jesus own words are extremely clear, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.  As we partake of the gift around the altar we receive life, salvation and the promises God made to us with Water and Word in our Holy Baptism.

The story is told when Lauren was a young girl that she had been baptized, but she couldn’t remember the event.  Like so many people, she was baptized as an infant and raised in the church, gone through confirmation and had become a ‘full member of the church’.  But something was missing.  She couldn’t put her finger on it, because she had been a good Lutheran all of her life, involved in youth group, even volunteered for Vacation Bible School and even went on mission trips to foreign countries and attended youth retreats and outings.  Yet, something was missing.  Finally on one particular mission trip, when the children she had played with during the week and taught the lessons of Jesus and how He was the Savior of the world finally took on a concreteness.

One little girl, simply known to her as Consuela, looked her in the eye and said, “I want what you have.”  Taken back by the simple statement, Lauren said, “And what is that?”  Consuela said, in her broken English and clear accent “I want to be baptized.  I want to be God’s child.”  Lauren knowing this was a big decision agreed and they went and found the Pastor and proceeded to have Consuela baptized.  It was not just the relationship that had emerged between the two, but the trust that God had built between them that allowed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be shared and for Consuela to hear the Gospel and desire to be baptized.

With that one experience, Lauren more fully understood and experienced how for Consuela she emerged from the waters of Holy Baptism changed, made new and now was a child of God.  Even though she was surrounded by poverty, Consuela had imparted to Lauren a greater understanding of the greatest gift of faith with her baptism and the shared experience for Lauren and the impact it had upon Consuela.  And Lauren finally understood that though baptized as an infant, her muscle of faith was still active and God was using it clearly and unmistakably to have an eternal impact.

This is what we are fed here today around the altar to do.  We are fed to spread the Gospel in our relationships.  Not just be fed, but be transformed and be reminded that we emerged with our baptism as changed children of our heavenly Father.  We like the butterfly emerge from the chrysalis to thrive and survive and can spread our wings of faith and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is the opportunity we have and which God wants us to share with others for the eternal impact upon all of mankind, because of His promise made to us in our baptism into His life, death and resurrection.  Let’s emerge, spread our faith wings and share the Gospel with all of mankind and begin with each and every saint gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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