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Sunday, June 29, 2014

06292014 Second Sunday After Trinity

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.

“Love, love, love, all you need is love”.  This lyric by the Beatles ran through my mind as I read this week’s Epistle Lesson.  Yes it dates me, but it is a classic that I know Jesus Christ and John would agree with.  And this is exactly what we here at Emmanuel have shown this week.

Thank you to the congregation for the love and spreading the Gospel message of Jesus Christ by supporting Sky Ranch.  This week, we as a congregation opened up our doors, our hearts and our love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ here in Goodland by sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  By providing a place to stay for the staff, giving of food for the snacks for the kids, donating your time and effort for God’s message of ‘Growing in Christ’ and ‘Fully Rely On God’ we have honored God.  Thank you!!

What we have committed to with our bringing Sky Ranch here to Emmanuel is a Kingdom Commitment!  We as the congregation of Emmanuel have stepped up and out and made a commitment to not only the community but to ourselves as well that we will not be silenced about the message and the mission of Jesus Christ!  I am proud of Emmanuel Lutheran Church!

The message of love shared this week of Sky Ranch Day Camp is extremely clear from the singing of the songs, the sharing in the bible studies and the kids being kids, but learning about Jesus Christ.  John in the epistle from this morning shares this as well.  At first John warns us that the world will hate us, why, because it takes commitment for a program like this, it takes time and it takes investment.  John writes, “Do not be surprised, bretheren, if the world hates you.  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.”  By our not only sponsoring Vacation Bible School, but opening our doors, we will be ridiculed, even questioned by some who wonder if the output of money is worth the cost.  But the questioning and ridicule is worth it, because what we are doing is kingdom work here at Emmanuel and for Goodland.

John says, “We know love by this, that He [that is Jesus Christ] laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”  Yes, this is about what Jesus Christ did on Calvary and He did that not only for the kids we invited to come, but also for each of us here today.  God came in order that we might be set free from that which binds us and lead kingdom lives as we have this last week with Sky Ranch.

Some of you may have heard about the man who saved a little child from certain death.  While performing his duty as of all things a tow truck driver, this man saw a little baby crawling and about to enter the highway.  After stopping and insuring this little girl would not be harmed, he spent the next four hours cuddling, caring for and being exactly what John wrote about for this little girl.  When she would get antsy and not want to settle down, he played gospel music on his phone for her, because it helped him settle down and the same was true for this little girl.  This self-sacrifice was clearly a gift from God for the little girl, but it was a result of God in this man’s life.

Previously, he had been a drug addict, been in jail and did not have anything to look forward to in his life, but one day through the work of God in a strange and mysterious way, he was set free from his former life.  And on this one day, he understood why God had freed him from his former life.  It was so he could be the angel looking out and seeing and rescuing this small, fragile little girl who would have certainly become the victim of certain death if it were not for him.

This is the impact that we with our Sky Ranch Day Camp and counselors have had upon Goodland this week.  Unknown to us right now is the impact we will have, but we have definitely followed God’s plan for us and John’s ending statement in the reading this morning.  John concludes, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”  We have done that for countless children this week here at Emmanuel and thank God for the gifts He has given us, especially of His Son Jesus Christ who died for all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here to celebrate Sky Ranch this week here at Emmanuel.   AMEN.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sky Ranch VBS 2014

This is from practice for tonights Sky Ranch Program!!!

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Are you in love with Jesus?

Are you in love with Jesus?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

06252014 Funeral Sermon Dorothy Arnold

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.

Questions always are used in classrooms, homes and between family members.  They can vary from what did you do last night?  How are you doing?  To Did you know about Uncle Bob and Aunt Mary?  Questions also are used to ask far more weighty matters, including acts of faith and whether someone has a faith life or even believes in God.  One such question we heard this morning, ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’

On the surface one can only imagine why this question would be asked, today, when we are here to mourn the death of Dorothy?  But I, stand here today to answer this question and why it is important for us today.

The reason why this question is important is not because of anything that I have done, nor that Dorothy ever did in her life here on earth.  The importance is that God loved us and stood in the gap by sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world for Dorothy, for you and for me.  Our world is full of sin, death and the devil, and God sent His Son, Jesus Christ so we might be saved.  You see God sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the World to save the world from the grips of Satan. 

When Jesus Christ stretched out His arms and was nailed to the Cross of Calvary, His love for us was manifest and it was in order that we, Dorothy, you, me and the entire world might be saved.  God understood that we could not save ourselves and that we needed a Savior, His Son Jesus Christ.  From the beginning of creation, the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, for the Israelite people who wandered in the desert, to the Temple in Jerusalem, to the inn in Bethlehem, where Jesus Christ entered the world.  Every event pointed to Jesus Christ love for each of us and His death on Calvary for you, for me and especially for Dorothy.

This is why we gather here today, laying claim to the promises of God made for all of mankind, including all of you gathered here mourning Dorothy’s passing and especially that this promise was for Dorothy and all of us.  We cannot easily take away our mourning, but what we can do is believe that Jesus Christ came into this world for each of us.  And this promise of salvation offered for you, for me and for Dorothy, no one, not even the devil can take away.  So we hold onto this promise and with firm conviction lay claim to the words of John in the Gospel.  “16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His [b]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the [c]only begotten Son of God.”  This is the promise of love and forgiveness that we hear and lay claim to today.

It is the same promise of love from Jesus Christ that is written about in the hymn I am about to sing.  Listen to the words, but know it is not just for all of mankind, but is the free gift from God for all of us saints who gather here this afternoon to say goodbye to Dorothy.  AMEN.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

06222014 First Sunday After Trinity

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.

“Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his brother.”  This was epitomized so clearly from the movie “Lone Survivor” how the main character Marcus Luttrell was willing to fight to the very end to save and protect not only his Seal Team Unit, but the very village that protected him.  This act, not only of bravery, but also love is exactly what we have heard this morning from our epistle reading.

The love that one has for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is something that God calls us to be.  God has this love for us which is clearly manifest through what His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary.  Jesus Christ loves us so much that He gave Himself up so we might live.  John wrote, “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

God is in each of us daily, sometimes we choose not to show our love, we hide it, not only from our family, our spouse, children and even our parents, but even our church and community.  Yet God is still present in us and through us, He still loves us and daily impacts each of us.  We are the result of the love of our parents and God honors us with His sacrifice.  John goes on to explain that “We love, because He first loved us.”  The love God has for us is manifest not only in the world we live in that is provided oxygen for us to breathe, food to eat, a government that protects us by soldiers like Luttrell, but also here in the church that we are a part of and worship with weekly.

Today we the people of Emmanuel show our love for our community by welcoming Sky Ranch into our midst and providing them not only a place to lay their heads, the means to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but also the opportunity to have a kingdom impact here at Emmanuel and in Goodland.  By our congregation stepping up and bringing water, snacks, meals, a place to minister, and coming to the program on Thursday night, we show our love for one another.  All because God first loved us and died for each of us.

There are times when we cower in fear of saying something to our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we are fearful of the ramifications upon our relationship with them and the history we have had from raising kids, watching sporting events together or even spending the evening or weekend together or in Denver, but what we harm is our relationship with Jesus Christ.  John says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”  But God offers us daily the opportunity to become perfected in love.  God wants us to ‘abide in love’ and overcome evil with love.  God sees the love in each of us.  I don’t say it often enough, but I love each of you sitting here in the pew and our brother’s and sisters that are not here this morning.  You are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I not only love you as your Pastor, but especially your brother.

We need reminded that the love we have for one another can overcome and has overcome evil in our world through Jesus Christ.  And this is what we the church of Emmanuel can do through God working through us, in us and enabling us to stand together in love.  In recent months we have had numerous deaths within our congregation.  Yet, as a congregation we have stood together loving each other hugging each other and holding each other up in prayer, serving the funeral dinners that minister to the family and even attending the funerals of our friends, neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ.

Just as in the Old Testament before Jesus came into Bethlehem, God inspired people to show the love and grace He was offering for the Israelite people.  We are not just their ancestors, but we have Jesus Christ among us and we remember His coming and sacrificing for us here at Emmanuel and we can show the love.

Recently at one funeral, I saw a long-time member of our church, instrumental in many behind the scenes ways, who does not currently attend regularly, but they felt it was important to come and not only pay respect, but love and support the family during their time of loss.  This is huge as a congregation.  We are showing our love and our true nature by being the body of the CHURCH, being the Body of Christ, being ‘perfected in love’ as we are in this world that we live in as God’s Children of Emmanuel.

Not only have we supported each other when death knocks at our door, but we also support one another in life.  Specifically I was witness of someone here at Emmanuel not well known for compassion, showing or revealing themselves when faced with a most difficult situation.  A very intimate part of a members life was shared and they not only did pastoral ministry and I was proud of them, but they showed their love for this person and their family.  This is the beauty of we the body of Christ here at Emmanuel.

There was once a little girl who lived in an orphanage.  She wasn’t liked by anybody and even the administrators wanted to get rid of her, because she wasn’t from the local area.  One day she was seen by another little girl writing a note and leaving it outside of the premises, which was against the rules.  The administrator immediately ran to where the note had been hidden and found the ‘illegal note’.  What the little girl had written in fact wasn’t what the administrator imagined.  It was a simple note with the following:  “To whoever finds this….I love you.”  That little girl epitomized what we as a congregation are doing this week, spreading the love we have from our Savior Jesus Christ for all of Goodland.

Just as Paul and John both wrote in Holy Scriptures, this is a commandment from God to love.  John ends saying, “And this commandment we have from Him [Jesus Christ], that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”  And this is exactly what we do as a congregation here at Emmanuel.  We are living this out, not just individually, but collectively this week with our Vacation Bible School, supporting each other in our troubles and being the church of God for all mankind.  Including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning preparing for a fun filled week of Vacation Bible School, loving our community and showing the love of God that resides in each of us.  AMEN.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

"I Love you, church...."

This message is something I needed to hear and I wanted to share it as well.... "I love you, church...."
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06152014 Holy Trinity 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.

All of us love stories.  Simple stories that uplift us, tell of an action that has had a lasting effect upon us or just give us ‘warm fuzzies’ in our heart, soul and spirit.  There is an organization, “One Spark Foundation” that lives and thrives upon these stories for sharing with others.  Ironically, the stories are not told to ‘hold people up’ or ‘put them on a pedestal’, but they have a different purpose.  The main reason these stories are published and passed around is that people want to have an impact upon others and Facebook and email provide the means to sharing how we can and do impact one another in a really positive and loving way.  There was a movie about this called, “Pay it Forward”.  The premise of the movie, just like the “One Spark Foundation” was that everyone has the opportunity to have an impact, in a positive way upon others they meet.  And this will have a lasting effect upon countless other people for years to come.  Whether the one action turned someone’s life around from a life of crime to a life of passion, to enabling a person to leave the ‘old person’ they were behind and be the person God had created, or a much clearer impact of saving someone’s life because they were in the right place at the right time.  This is the idea that we the church here at Emmanuel can have and share with one another and our community.  One of the ways the generations of church members here at Emmanuel that have gone before us share with us like this ‘One Spark’ is by our use of the Athanasian Creed.

Today we the church here in Goodland, Kansas and throughout the world remember the importance of the Trinity shared with us by our ancestors.  Unlike most Sundays where the Creed that is confessed is either the Apostle’s in remembrance of our baptism, or the Nicene in our common confession of faith around the altar in our receipt of the Lord’s Supper, today we confess the Athanasian Creed.  Yes this is the longer of the three creeds, but this is the one time during the year when we can sit as we confess our faith.  This Creed has as its main emphasis the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Since today is Holy Trinity Sunday, the phrase, Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity is the mantra of the day.

The faith of the people of God of those who have gone before us, like Lee, Russell, Edna and Etta, is something that is not only shared, but expressed clearly whether by painters and artists like Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, or even by farmers who daily do their chores and make their land the best for yielding crops.  Faith is something that is an action of both the individual and the collective.  For those who were in the military you remember having to keep the barracks clean and tidy, for kids in school who always had to pick up your toys after having play time.  We the people of God with our using the Athanasian Creed clearly and with joy confess our faith, not only as individuals, but also and especially as a church, believing in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

When we confess our faith, we stand with Luther, who boldly stated, “Here I Stand, I can do no other”.  We stand with the Apostles’ and Martyrs of the church who even with their death, to the very end confessed their faith in Jesus Christ.  And we stand with our forefather’s who built this very church, educational wing and insured the spread of the Gospel.  We remember this, not only because it is our history, but because we are the fruit of their labor, we not only remember the stories, but we tell the stories of their sacrifice for each of us.  We are the result of the “One Spark” that can and should be told of their effort.

As we sit today in the pew and confess the Athanasian Creed, we not only confess Jesus Christ and what He did on Calvary that sets us free, but we also stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm and heart to heart confessing the faith which frees us.  We use this tool, the Athanasian Creed as our confession.  It is not just a conviction, but today here in this church we are filled with the Holy Spirit given on Pentecost that we celebrated last week that this banner reminds us of and we are enabled to be the people of God here in Goodland, Kansas.  To be the “One Spark” that can ‘Pay It Forward’ and we can be known not as individuals, but as God’s children from Emmanuel for Goodland and the entire world.

Recently, I was reading through the history of Emmanuel and ran across a letter that was written by Rev. Clifton Osborn in celebration of the Educational Wing Completion and Dedication.  He wrote the following about the educational wing, “These classrooms and offices are the tools—tools in the hands of men who are in the hands of God—the tools of instruction and faith.”  Clearly Rev. Osborn not only believed in the power of you the people of God, but he believed the faith being shared was the most important aspect of our sharing our faith and being the “One Spark”.  Last week we emulated this with our Ice Cream Social put on by the ladies of the congregation.  Yesterday we lived this out with serving as we always do the funeral dinner for Lee Tubbs family.  A week from today our church will be prepared for a week of Vacation Bible School with the counselors from Sky Ranch of the spread of the Gospel message.  Today we celebrate Fathers and their role in each of our lives.  These are the “Sparks” that we have here at Emmanuel that are a result of God working through each of us.

And today we use one of the tools of the church to confess our faith and allow it to be a match or a “Spark” in and for each of us.  This is not just a confession, but it is a tool for our use like the classrooms and offices of the Educational wing for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We can as we confess our faith, use the tools given to us by our ancestors and impact Goodland and the world.  We are their fruit.  We now can plant our seeds, our stories and our ‘Sparks’ and see the harvest of God’s watering and caring for us.  May we today as we confess our faith not only listen to the words, believe in the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, but also be the church that our forefathers believed in by giving us the tool, not only of the Athanasian Creed, but also and especially the Educational Wing for the spread of the Gospel.  For the Gospel is for all of mankind, but especially including all of us saints gathered here for this Trinity Sunday.  AMEN.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

06142014 Funeral Sermon James Lee Tubbs

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!!

Let us pray!  Good and gracious Heavenly Father, as we gather this morning to mourn the death of Lee and be comforted with the Gospel of Your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, the mark that has been made by Lee upon our lives cannot be measured.  May we as we gather remember that You mark us, not only with the Cross, but with the promise of being with us always.  This promise You have graciously fulfilled in You taking Lee home to be with You in Your kingdom.  May we be comforted by this truth and we ask You to send Your Holy Spirit to surround us with Your love and the salve of the Gospel that You offer to all of mankind, but especially Lee’s family and friends gathered here to say goodbye.  AMEN.

If you ever walked into an implement dealership and went to the shop you knew you had entered a special place.  Whether it was the smell of kerosene from the old days to clean your hands or some of the parts of their grease, the oil stains on the floor from a gasket blowing or a leaking crank shaft, or even along the wall the display of wrenches and tools that were needed for fitting all the nuts and bolts on the tractors, combines or even sprayers.  This was the domain of men who liked to fix things and tinker, it was the happy home of the mechanic.  Lee as we all know was a mechanic and a farmer at heart.  He liked working with his hands, whether leather in later years, tractors and farm equipment or cars to race, or planting crops and raising pigs, cows and other farm animals, but Lee clearly knew and understood moving parts, machinery and what each tool on his bench could do and should be used for in the shop.

Not only did he know how to use each of his tools, but Lee also knew his tools not just by name, but even by their feel in his hands.  Just as a sculptor knows how and when to use a chisel to carve stone, the mechanic that Lee was knew what tool was needed for each piece of machinery that either entered his stall or that he used on the farm.  But it wasn’t just knowing the tool, Lee knew his tools by the mark that was on each tool.  It wasn’t the trademark or brand on the tool that Lee knew of Craftsman or nowadays Fastenal or Snap-On, Lee had marked his tools with either “JT” or “JLT” and they were his tools.  Not only did this mark make the tool his, but it insured that the tool would make it home if it was borrowed.

Today we come to remember and reminisce about Lee, but we need to remember that just like his tools, Lee on Wednesday was returned home to his heavenly home.  You see, Lee when he was 14 years old became marked not with letters or a tool trademark, but with the sign of the Cross upon his brow and over his heart as the sign of becoming a child of God in his baptism.  In, through and by the waters of baptism, Lee was made a new creature by Water and Word intimately connected and God made Lee His own.  Crafted in his mother’s womb, Lee with his baptism not only became identified, but definitely marked by the seal of the Blood of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  For the rest of his earthly life, that sign and seal connected him with the Cross of Calvary and Jesus death on that Cross for him.  It was the mark upon Lee that not only formed and shaped his life, but showed who and Whose he truly was and now Lee has been returned to his owners, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Just like God the Father, Who we hear speaking very few words in all of Holy Scripture, Lee was also a man of few words.  As I shared with his family as we prepared for this morning, I came to Goodland in 2010 and Lee was a shell of his former self.  I would visit Lee and Ruby with Holy Communion, sit on their couch and I would try and coax Lee into conversation, I would be successful, if I could get out a quick phrase or short response.  So Thursday, I asked the family to tell me about him.  And it was clear, Lee was even when Bette, Mary Ann and Wilbur were younger a man of few words.  But if Lee spoke, everybody listened.  Whether it was in talking to the kids or grandkids when they were young, ‘I’ll put a knot on your head’ partly in jest or in talking about the farm animals that wouldn’t do what he wanted them to, Lee made his words count and matter.  But one thing was sure and certain, though a man of few words, Lee always was looking out for his family.  And this is the same for our God Whom marked Lee and to Whom Lee has returned to, God always has been looking out for Lee and us and God gave us the scriptures that we have heard this morning as His promise of the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation that has been fulfilled for Lee, but also for us as a means of comfort as we mourn but to show us His love for all of us through the Cross of Jesus Christ.

The love God has for us Lee emulated in his love that he had for his wife and kids.  It was very clear even to the staff at Good Samaritan that ministered unto him, they saw and experienced this love between husband and wife that was so clear.  It may not have seemed that way all of the time, but once, Lee, Wilbur, Ruby, Mary Ann and Bette were moving a fridge.  And Wilbur became caught by his hand by the fridge against a shelf.  Wilbur was trying to protect his parents from being crushed by the fridge and its sliding down the steps onto his parents.  Yet, ironically, it was Lee who didn’t want anything to happen to Wilbur and wanted to prevent any mark or scar on his hand, Lee simply ‘moved’ the fridge to free Wilbur and in essence protect his son.  But this was the nature of the quiet man, Lee really was, not only as a Father, but especially as a husband.

This was not only the mark upon Lee’s life, but how God through the Cross of Jesus Christ and the offer of eternal life was offered to Lee as we heard in Psalm 23.  Jesus Christ ‘prepared’ and made Lee the man that he was and we knew and loved.  Just as in farming, when one planted a field the arm on the planter came down to show where the next row was to be followed for planting, the mark Lee carried as a child of God was clear.  It was not only the restoration found in being a farmer, but also Lee’s love, instilled by God for his family.

Having a large family was something that was natural for Lee and Ruby.  Not in the number of kids, but how important family and family gatherings were to Lee and made him smile.  Whether it was to have his grandkids for the weekend so both he and Ruby could spoil them, to their parents chagrin, or how Lee would exhibit his wry sense of humor with a simple phrase spoken in jest at times of ‘knot head’.  Lee always was making a mark in our memory upon the people that he loved, from teasing as only a grandfather could, to ‘knuckles’ and kisses with grandkids and ‘great grandkids’ to even making his nearest neighbors the Wilkenings one time wonder if World War III had started by all the gunfire while having some target practice in the pasture.  Lee liked to have fun here on the plains of Kansas, where it was flat and you could race cars if you wanted to even loosing to Wilbur one time, but it was very clear Lee loved this land, his family and his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It was clear Lee and Ruby loved living the life of the pioneer.  From his being born in a sod house to living in one after marriage, both Lee and Ruby were extremely comfortable living on the prairie of Northwest Kansas and making their living from the winter wheat, corn in the fall and all of the livestock, even when he threatened to ‘go get the gun’, because they weren’t doing what they should.    But it was extremely clear from the very beginning that Lee had a mark on him.  It wasn’t the typical mark like tools or machinery, but it was the mark of and from God upon his life.

When God entered Lee’s life, God had a plan and the beginning of that plan was God’s making him a child of God.  And the undeniable truth of Jesus Christ in Lee’s life through thick and thin, the good and the bad, but clearly insuring the promise of salvation offered by Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary.  Then, just as Psalm 23 said, God then all throughout his life ‘prepared a table’ for Lee and his family, whether in Burlington, Pratt, here in Goodland or even out on the farm Northwest of town.  And God’s ‘goodness and mercy followed’ Lee all of his life.  The most profound way God entered into his life after Lee’s baptism was in a small all-night diner that he entered with his best friend Gary.  In that diner, Lee was marked, by nothing other than a woman.  You see Lee and Gary stopped at that diner and met a young lady that Gary thought was a great catch for him.  After offering her a ride home and being declined, Lee and Gary waited for this young lady til after her shift was over.  When she emerged and found Lee and Gary still waiting, she agreed to the offer of a ride home.  It was then to Gary’s chagrin that he learned that Lee had been marked from the first time she saw him by this young lady named Ruby.

God had clearly marked in His book of life the destiny that has not only been lived by Lee and Ruby for these last 56 years, but has had as its blessing three kids, numerous grandkids and even ‘great-grands’ that were the apple of both Lee and Ruby’s eyes.  The mark of God upon both Lee and Ruby is clear, but it is succinctly epitomized in something that Lee wrote to Ruby on the back of his Senior Picture.
“Ruby, To a swell gal that has been a lot of fun to be with. 
I guess we’ve had fun together.  I have anyway.  Lee”
Simple marks of a pen on the back of a picture at the good and proper time, like Solomon in Ecclesiastes wrote signified a good and proper time for everything.  And especially the love these two had for one another.  But it was a love that continued throughout their lives.  What is not well known is that Lee, a man of few words, marked by His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ loved his betrothed Ruby, not only as a person, but her playing the organ and singing.

Unknown to Ruby, when they lived on the farm, Ruby when she thought she was alone would sit at the organ and play and sing, because she loved music.  Lee would skillfully sneak back to the house when Ruby would play and sit on the porch quietly and listen and be serenaded by his ‘swell gal’.  The music he heard is a perfect bookmark for us this morning of God’s mark and love song in Lee’s life.  Though today we mourn, God marked Lee with the Cross of Christ and today makes good on the promise made in his baptism to bring him home.  It is the proper time of fulfillment, because God has prepared the table and now welcomes Lee into His loving arms.  That love shared by Lee and Ruby with all of us first came from God to Whom we now entrust and return Lee since he was marked by God in his baptism.  May we be comforted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and may it continue to be the salve that soothes our souls as we listen to Ruby sing one last time for Lee of the salvation offered by Jesus Christ for all of mankind, but especially for Lee, his family and all of us gathered here to say goodbye.  AMEN.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

06082014 Pentecost 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.

Today is the festival of Pentecost.  On this day 50 days after Easter, when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Today the disciples who had fled the Garden when Jesus was betrayed, cowered in fear of their being killed like Jesus in the upper room and some who had even watched Jesus suffer on the Cross, today received the Holy Spirit.  It may seem anti-climatic nearly two thousand years later, but Pentecost is our opportunity as a congregation for us to remember what it means for the Holy Spirit to descend upon us.

If you will notice the colors of the paraments are red today to remember the Holy Spirit descending upon the disciples.  Not only is this a reminder for all of us of Jesus baptism, where the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus Christ head in the form of a dove, but it also is a reminder of our baptism and our confirmation.  When the Pastor placed his hands on your head and you took responsibility for your faith that was your Pentecost moment.

For some the day of our confirmation is etched in our minds, where we took upon ourselves our responsibility and now stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Our vows, not only link us with our church here at Emmanuel.  We are firmly connected to the church throughout the world, our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and others who confess our Christian faith.  We today not only remember our baptism, but especially our confirmation with the descent of the tongues of fire that now rest over our heads.

Today is our Pentecost here at Emmanuel.  We are not only empowered, but enriched and encouraged to live out the Gospel.  We have a decision to make as individuals and as a congregation.  The best way I can help you to clearly understand the power you have on this Pentecost Sunday is by giving you a gift.

Before I give you this gift, I need to warn you.  What I am about to give you can either be like Thor’s hammer, constructive or destructive!  It can mean and be for each of us a symbol for change and opportunity, a reminder when we look upon it, what God gives us with His Holy Spirit, or the potential for God to light a fire in each of us as the body of Christ for the spread of the Gospel for all of mankind.  We have a decision to make how to use the gifts and the power each of us has been individually given by God and the gift I give you today is meant only to be a reminder of God’s gift to us.  It is a symbol or a metaphor for us today on Pentecost of the power of God that lies within each of us.

Please understand, power can be used in at least two ways: it can be unleashed, or it can be harnessed. The energy in ten gallons of gasoline, for instance, can be released explosively by dropping a lighted match into the can. Or it can be channeled through the engine of a tractor in a controlled burn and used to run a combine, a bush-hog or even a tractor trailer to bring a harvest to the elevator. Explosions are spectacular, but controlled burns have lasting effect, staying power. The Holy Spirit that we celebrate its gift to us today works both ways. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit exploded on the scene; His presence was like "tongues of fire" (Acts 2:3). Thousands were affected by one burst of God's power upon the people of God. But He, that is the Holy Spirit, also works through we the church here at Emmanuel—we are the institution God began to tap and use the Holy Spirit's power for the long haul. Through worship, fellowship, and service, we the Saints of Emmanuel are provided with staying power through the Work of the Holy Spirit in and through our lives.

It is this staying power that we have been given in the Holy Spirit for all the saints here at Emmanuel.  So may the gift I give to you today may it simply symbolize the potential that God sees in you and is willing to give you the power to use in His Kingdom and for His Glory for all of mankind, but especially all of you saints gathered here at Emmanuel on this Pentecost Sunday.  AMEN.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

06012014 Sunday After Ascension

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 has ascended!  He has ascended indeed!  Alleluia!

If you look closely this morning, I have offering plates as our focus this morning.  I can just imagine the conversations that would occur, if I were to preach on money.  But this morning I am not preaching on money, but what these vessels used in God’s house and service really mean and how they apply for us in new and various way.

Let’s pull out our bulletin insert and pray together Luther’s Evening Prayer.  Luther’s Evening Prayer – I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night.  For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things.  Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.  AMEN.  Let’s ask God for this to be true for each of us today and every night as we lay our heads on our pillows to sleep.

Gracious Lord, these vessels and our bodies have been dedicated to Your service both here in Your house and in the world created by Your hands.  Enable us to fill these plates with the gifts You have given us, not of money but from our hearts with Your Word of promise of forgiveness for all the saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

For Lent we use a modified service of Evening Prayer that begins, “Let my prayer rise before You as incense, the lifting up of our hands as the evening sacrifice.”  In this opening versicle it clearly captures Luther’s Evening Prayer and even what these offering plates signify.  For some, these plates denote the gain of money by the church.  Some see these plates as the only way they can get into heaven by giving to the church in a tangible way, by money.  Others fret over money so much they make it an idol, when there is plenty they squirrel it away like the squirrels do the nuts in preparation for winter.  When money is tight, every single thought turns into how to control and regulate.  We as a congregation were here a few years ago before I arrived.  Where we had to decide which bill to pay and which to put off till the money had come in.  And ironically it was all collected in these plates.
But these plates are not about money, they are not about nor do they represent plenty or not enough money.  These plates should have a far deeper and profound meaning for us today.  These plates should represent our trust of God and the 90 plus year history we have here in Goodland, KS.

When our congregation was formed, people came together in the sod church for a sole purpose, the spread of the Gospel message.  A message with a sole purpose of the spread of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and what He did on Calvary.  From the time the cornerstone of this building was laid, through the building of a bell tower to ring when we gather for worship, remembering Jesus lashes and even the toll of the bell in remembrance of those who have died.  To the sanctuary where we have the eternal light to remember the Holy Spirit and its descent at Pentecost, that we will celebrate next week.  To the educational wing built so we could teach the stories of God to the children of God baptized in the font.  It all began with an idea, an inspiration and an intention of the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So how do offering plates intersect this?  These offering plates are simply used here in the chancel to take out to you the people of God and to return to God in honor and glory to God of what He has first given us.  Not money, not time, not the riches we cash from the co-op from a bountiful harvest of wheat or corn.  What God is asking from us to offer symbolically in these plates is ourselves.  Simply offer ourselves into His service in His Kingdom here in His house built by our brother’s and sisters in Christ.  

This past Christmas Eve, instead of using these plates to take the offering, we used the manger.  The symbolism was clear then and continues to be clear and appropriate for us here today.  We need to continue as we have in the past of offering ourselves for God’s service and worship each and every day.  By offering and entrusting ourselves as we have, just as we do in Luther’s Evening Prayer, we place ourselves in God’s hands not only when we lay our heads down to sleep.  But also by offering ourselves as God’s instruments for service to the fallen world that we live in.  May we tonight and each and every night be willing to offer ourselves into God’s Holy Hands, for there we find not only Holy rest, but also our Savior Who cares for all of the world, but especially including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel who pray Luther’s Evening prayer as our offering and sacrifice when we lay our heads down to sleep.  AMEN.

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