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Sunday, May 4, 2014

05042014 Second Sunday After Easter

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.

Christ is risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!

When someone we know and love has entered the Church Triumphant, we mourn in ways that sometimes defy reason or logic.  In Jesus day, the women would moan and wale loudly, they even did this when Jesus came and told the parents of the little girl that she was not dead.  For us today, whether it was our parents who lived a long life, a friend that we grew up with from grade school, or someone we got to know through work or our serving in the military who became closer to us than even our own siblings.  When someone close to us dies, we begin to grieve almost immediately.  For some the stages of grief are a jumbled mess, they hit all five and sometimes even go back to steps they have previously experienced.  For others grief is a life-long obsession, because they can’t, don’t want to or refuse to let go.  But clearly, grief is not something that ends when we close the casket and lay our loved one in the ground.

Even for the disciples, their grief was clearly manifest in the weeks that followed Jesus crucifixion and death.  Last week in the Gospel we heard how Thomas wouldn’t believe until he had seen, touched and personally encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ.  Thomas best known for his doubting was probably a story that was well heard not only from his day, but by other disciples and apostles, including Paul and has been passed down to we their spiritual children and disciples who gather here today.

Here at Emmanuel when I meet with a family after someone has passed away, I try not only to comfort them, but assure them of the truth that we find and believe in through Jesus Christ and His resurrection.  One of the most comforting passages, I use comes from Paul in Romans 8.  Paul writes, “If God is for us, who can be against us?  He Who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31-32)  Not only does or can this be an assurance for us when we face death, but it also is even more appropriate for us as we celebrate life and what God offers us in the Sacrament of the Altar that we again celebrate today.

Let’s pull out our bulletin insert and answer the question, What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?  The Sacrament of the Altar, What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?  These words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words.  For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.  Let’s seek these promises as we go to God in prayer.

Gracious and Resurrected Lord, we believe Your word of forgiveness that we find in the Sacrament of the Altar that gives us Your precious Body and Blood.  Enable us in our receiving Your Body and Blood to understand we receive the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, not by our own work, but by believing in Your Word.  For it is through Your life, death and resurrection for all of mankind that we receive grace upon grace and will one day enter into Your Kingdom by Your call.  This is most certainly true for all of mankind, but especially including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Last week we had a chalice and paten presented to me at my ordination.  This morning we again have a chalice and paten, but it is not any ordinary altar ware, it is special and significant for us here at Emmanuel, because it came as a result of one of our sister’s entering the Church Triumphant.  One of the traditions here at Emmanuel is that when someone enters eternal glory, the family can designate the memorial money to be given to the church and then designate what the money could be used for.  This also is the opportunity for any gift given to the church in honor and memory of a family member as well as any anonymous gift.  Matter of fact this has happened not only from money being given for the Eternal Light over the Altar, by Carol Jarrett’s mother’s memorial money, to the building of the handicapped bathroom in the cry room from the church money from Colorado, to the doors both on the sun deck and east end of the educational wing from an anonymous donor to the hymn board as a confirmation project to the gifts given for the replacement of the organ blower system from the memorial from a sweet generous member of the congregation.  Our church has members who have been generous, even to the purchase of the new fridge.  But the fact is this chalice and paten we have before us this morning are not just altar adornments, but instruments for our receipt of the gifts and grace of God.

What we receive from their use is life and salvation.  As we heard from our reading the bulletin insert, we are offered in, with and under the bread and wine, that is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, “life and salvation”.  When we use this chalice and this paten, we receive God’s gifts of grace and mercy manifest in the breaking of bread and offering us the forgiveness of sins.  It is not based upon our merit, but solely a gift from God for all of us who gather here and believe in the forgiveness of sins.

But of what importance is that for us today?  Why should we not only lay claim to, but remember clearly what is offered here on the paten and in the chalice?

Simply it is something that we have already heard, sung and proclaimed a few minutes ago.  When we rose in preparation for hearing the Holy Gospel, we sang a ‘liturgical verse’, known as the Alleluia Verse.  We sang, “Alleluia, Lord to whom shall we go you have the words of eternal life.”  These same words of eternal life we hear in the Gospel are given to us in the breaking of bread in the Sacrament of the Altar.  They give us eternal life and prepare us for our entrance into the church triumphant.

The Last Sunday in March, was a prime example of the importance and sharing of Holy Communion with one of our own who was preparing to enter the church triumphant.  When Marty Spomer was in Hays, I had the extreme pleasure to bring and offer Holy Communion to his family as we surrounded him not only with our love, thoughts and prayers, but in the sharing of the most intimate meal of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood.  As we shared not only the Word of Truth of Eternal Life, heard the hymns of grace that we weekly sing, but also the gift of grace offered in sharing Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood we partook of the most sacred meal of the Lord’s Supper.  This meal that we shared around his hospital bed was a clear reminder of Jesus Christ being offered for each and every one of us and His offer to us and especially to Marty of Eternal life.

As you know less than a week later we buried Marty, but clearly the reminder that we needed that day surrounded by the machines and tubes that helped him breathe, the doctors and medical teams that ministered unto him and all of his family who surrounded him with love was the Holy Supper God offers us.  For in that meal of Jesus precious Body and Blood, just as is offered on the paten and in the chalice this morning, we receive in the Sacrament of the Altar the greatest gift of eternal life for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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