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Sunday, May 11, 2014

051120104 3rd Sunday After Easter Mother's Day

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!

If you look around this morning, you can see our connection with the past.  In churches that were built in the middle ages, the acoustics were purposefully built so that sound would not only travel, but you could clearly hear chanting, the lessons, sermons and especially the liturgy which all pointed to Jesus Christ from any seat in the church.  The highpoint for all services was the celebration of Holy Communion, which was celebrated as Jesus intended, on every day the church gathered for worship.  But to hear the words of institution not only reminded people of Jesus entrance into the world, but His sacrifice for all of mankind.

This morning before us, I have a microphone and its holder.  It is meant to be a reminder, not only that we need to hear, but more specifically what we need to hear.  Let’s pull out our bulletin insert this morning and answer the question, How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?  The Sacrament of the Altar How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?  Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament.  Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: “Forgiveness of sins.””  Let’s ask God to help us believe His promise made to us today.

Heavenly Father, the Word we hear spoken in the Words of institution tell of the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  Enable us to believe these promises You make to us today, for all of the saints of Emmanuel gathered here today.  AMEN.

Clearly every Sunday we use the technology that was developed in the last millennia to hear the Word of God clearly spoken here at Emmanuel.  Whether it is the pulpit mike to hear me preach, the lectern mike to hear the lector read the lessons of the day or even the wireless mike I have around my ear that enables me to be heard even from my office over the PA system.  We have technology that helps us hear the Word of God.  But what we are hearing is only part of the equation.  Like any good mathematician, they always want an equal sign.  Because on the right side of the equal sign, there is a result.

In our celebrating the Holy Supper this morning we have a clear result, and that is what we hear when we understand clearly the answer to ‘How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?’.  What we receive in this meal is clear, it is the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  When we gather around the altar, come up and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus whether around the altar or continuously, we receive the greatest gift of grace from Jesus Christ of His Body and Blood.

But it is not just receipt, but our hearing the grace offered and provided for us in the meal that we receive God’s greatest gift of grace.  This is why I have a microphone and stand up here.  When we clearly hear God’s gift and offer for us, we understand more fully what God is offering us through the sacrament.  Not only His precious Body and Blood, but life and salvation and the ‘forgiveness of sins’.

In the words, ‘Given and Shed for you for the forgiveness of sins’, God is clearly offering us the greatest free gift of life and salvation.  Last week we heard how around the bed of Marty Spomer, his family received this gift and shared one last meal together as a family of faith.

Today, I want to tell you about Margaret.  She was a special lady.  Known in the community as a woman who gave to the local arts council, served on the hospital auxiliary and was active in the VFW woman’s auxiliary, because John her husband had served in both World War 2 and Korea.  In the church she was constantly active.  Not only in bible studies, small-groups, but also in the altar guild.  Margaret always served with Vickie her lifelong friend, confidant and buddy after John had passed away.

One Sunday after cleaning up from communion, she had been thinking and made one request of Vickie, her lifelong friend.  She said, “When I die, would you do me a favor?”  Vickie said, “Sure.”  Thinking it was something like put flowers on her grave or make sure they used the pall for the funeral.  But Margaret said, “Would you make sure that they put a fork in my hand when I am buried?”  Taken a back, Vickie, said, “Why do you want to be buried with a fork in your hand?”  Margaret said, “Because when I get to heaven, I know I am entering the greatest feast ever made as Pastor told us this morning.  But I also want to be prepared to eat right away and not have to wait for someone to hand me a fork.”

In that one statement, Margaret stated clearly and emphatically, the truth of what we receive in the Feast God is preparing for us.  It is not just a meal that will be finer than any other meal made with human hands.  It is not just a meal to feed our bodies.  It is a meal that we need to prepare for here on earth.  It is a meal with spiritual dimension and divine results, in essence the other side of the equal sign.  We need to prepare for our receipt of God’s gift to us of life and salvation each and every day here on earth.  Just as the farmers prepare the soil with watering it before planting, fertilizing it in order to give the corn the best chance of a great harvest and insuring the water continues to shower it by the irrigation wells running through the summer, both night and day.  We need to prepare for our entrance into heaven and our receipt of God’s feast offering us eternal life, salvation and grace and every blessing.


We can prepare today by hearing clearly God’s call of each of us here this morning to have a better relationship with Him.  Not only in heeding the call to prepare for the sacrament, but also in preparing our hearts just as we do the soil and our homes for guests as well as like Margaret with the fork a her burial.  For when we prepare for God to bestow upon us the gift of grace offered to us in the sacrament and in His Word, we receive not only grace upon grace, but the greatest blessing of eternal life.  We will clearly hear His call and can heed His desire for us to receive His blessings that He offers.  For it was on the Cross of Calvary that He not only offered Himself, but Jesus Christ offered Himself in order for all of mankind to be in His kingdom.  And this especially includes all of the saints of Emmanuel gathered here to hear His Word through a microphone that sits on a stand like we have this morning and to receive the blessing that He offers us in Word, but especially the sacrament for all who have heard the Word of God in the forgiveness of sins.  AMEN.

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