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Monday, April 14, 2014

04132014 Palm 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.

Recently the church world was rocked.  It wasn’t a scandal, it wasn’t someone giving a bad name to the church.  What happened was a break from tradition.  And what was more surprising was it was with the Roman Catholic Church breaking from tradition.  For numerous years, the Pope would hear confession from the common people who came to St. Peter’s to ‘confess’ their sins.  This is a tradition that many Popes had fulfilled in preparation for Easter Mass.  But this year Pope Francis, humble patriarch of the Roman Catholic Church broke the tradition.  Instead of only hearing confession, Pope Francis, in a public show first went to Public Confession himself.  Pope Francis in a clear and tangible way showed he was a humble servant, who like everyone else was in need of Confessing his sins.  For Catholics, this not only was a change, but a dramatic shift in the belief in the infallibility of the Pope and ironically lessens the divide between the Roman Catholic Church and we as Lutherans and both of our understandings of Confession.

In order to more fully understand what we believe about Confession, let’s pull out our bulletin insert and respond to the questions, “What is Confession?”, “What sins should we confess?” and “Which are these?”.  Confession, What is confession?  Confession has two parts.  First, we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.  What sins should we confess?  Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.  Which are these?  Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife or worker?  Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy?  Have you been hot-tempered rude or quarrelsome?  Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds?  Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?  Let’s go to God in prayer understanding we are to confess what we have done in thought, word and deed.

Gracious God, You know and watch what we do in our lives, how we break the 10 Commandments and how we turn away from You.  Enable us to come and confess what is in our hearts and hear the proclamation of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins that only comes through what Your Son Jesus Christ has done on Calvary.  For these promises are given and revealed for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

When Pope Francis humbled himself by first confessing his sins and receiving absolution this sent the clearest message to the Roman Catholic Church and to any and all churches that would listen or pay heed.  The only perfect person that has walked this earth was Jesus Christ, not the pope, not the president and definitely not me your pastor.

Today as we celebrate Palm Sunday, Jesus in His entrance into the Holy City of Jerusalem changed the playing field, more drastically than Pope Francis with his private confession.  People expected Jesus to be made King, ironically He already was, but His exalted identity and ability and what He would fulfill was still a week away.  But truly what Jesus wanted to occur was to reveal Himself, confess as He had for the last three years Who He truly was and help anyone who would listen to know and understand that He had to die in order to save mankind and specifically them.

But just as in private confession, one reveals things that may hurt, not only relationship, but also the future reality, Jesus had one purpose.  It was so God’s Glory could be revealed in raising His Son, Jesus Christ from the dead.  When we come and confess our sins, we open ourselves up to God and He through the church offers us the forgiveness of sins.

Some have said from their responses to the recent survey here at Emmanuel, that they believe I as your pastor, ‘make myself out to be God’, or ‘our preacher thinks he is God and can judge people’.  By these statements, responses and beliefs, I understand more clearly and fully that I am not perfect and that, ‘I am a sinful man’.  If that is what people believe or hear when I talk, that isn’t what I believe, nor what Christ expects from me.  I do act on Jesus Christ behalf as the called shepherd of Emmanuel to declare the grace and mercy offered by Jesus Christ, but I am not, nor ever desire to be thought of as equal to God.  I therefore need to Confess, publically ‘I have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.’  My desire is for you to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ on a daily basis. What we need to hear is Jesus Christ came to die for you and for me and set us free from sin, death and the devil.  We cannot save ourselves and are in desperate need of what Jesus Christ offers us through His life, death and resurrection.

And today as we celebrate Palm Sunday, Jesus Christ shows us what He was willing to do.  Jesus Christ was willing to be carried into Jerusalem, heralded as a ‘king’ and in four days, be betrayed by His own disciples, not just Judas Iscariot, but even Peter.  Jesus was willing to go to Jerusalem in order to be crucified for the sin of mankind.  For without Jesus Christ willingness to suffer and die, we would not have eternal life and the free salvation His death freely offers us.

For us today, as we enter Jerusalem and Holy Week with the institution of the Lord’s Supper and as we mourn Jesus death on Good Friday, may we remember we become partakers of this through our confession.  Hence, I have before us this morning a kneeler that is used at communion.  May this be a reminder of our confession of our sins and the grace that God offers to each of us through Jesus Christ innocent death for all of mankind.  For our confession is not just of our sins, but of our not being equal to God, because only God in Jesus Christ could offer Himself to set us free for all eternity.  And we ask God to grant each of us the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation because of Jesus Christ death for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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