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Sunday, July 20, 2014

07202014 Fifth 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.

Forty five years ago today, our nation was captured.  Not by an invading army, nor by an evil dictator, but captured by the bold fulfillment of a dream and promise made by a man who was only a memory from six years earlier.  On the Sea of Tranquility, the bold realization and desired destiny of the dreams of many young men was being lived out by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.  These two men were boldly going where no man had gone before and stepping into history as not only explorers, but fulfillers of the dreams of a nation and its now slain leader.

The reverence shown for the place, time and experience was clearly manifest by Buzz Aldrin who wanted to perform a simple act of faith on this the first mission that would set foot on the moon.  While in the Lunar Module, Aldrin as an elder in the church, received Holy Communion.  In that one moment he was connected, not only to the people who would celebrate Holy Communion 230,000 miles away, but with all people of all time and place, even us here today forty five years later.  What may seem insignificant to some is how profound the meal we celebrate today around our altar connects us with men like Aldrin and others who share the faith in a loving and forgiving God.

But today isn’t just about a milestone for mankind, but more importantly how we are connected across time and space because of our reverence not only of God, but of and with each other gathered here today.  Our connection is clear because Peter in his epistle, reminds us that we are to be a blessing to each other.

In his epistle lesson this morning, Peter is attempting to insure that the people of God will be “harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit”.  God is calling us to this and Peter is pointing us in this direction.  Peter wants us to work together as the people of God pointed in the direction of faith and love for God’s Glory to be revealed for Peter as well as all of us gathered here today.

Peter is writing to the churches of Asia Minor, because they are suffering.  Not only from the government and the tyranny of a ‘non-Jewish’ and unaccepted religion at that time, but also from each other, meaning the people were persecuting each other.  The desire that Peter wants the people to understand is that they are to be a blessing.  He says, do “not return(ing) evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

It is for this reason that we have been called as Christians to be a blessing, for the entire world and especially for each other.  We who gather here today can offer and show this blessing not only in our sharing the meal that we receive from the altar that we gather around, but also by our sharing our burdens.  We have the opportunity to share and bear one another’s burdens and as Peter says, live ‘harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted’ lives that glorify God and look for the blessings God will impart to us.

How can we do this?  We can be the spark that God has made us to be in our baptism and share with one another in our daily lives.  Instead of thinking the worst of someone or their circumstance, whether family, farm or our own feelings, we can follow Luther and put the best construction on what is said or done.

Personally this has been very close to me recently.  I love technology.  It can be not only a means of outreach, but also a means to spread the Gospel message.  This is why I use Facebook.  I share my life and my experiences on this media in order for God’s Glory to be revealed.  But some use Facebook as a platform for politics and bashing, fishing for meaning that isn’t there or a means to put people down instead of building them up.

I recently read about a young woman who was made fun of, had graffiti painted about her and a part of her body.  The graffiti wasn’t done in a private place or a private message on the computer, but in the most public of places for everyone to see.  Never have the culprits who broke the law been disciplined, but this girl was ridiculed from every person and angle, because they knew it was directed at her and people persisted in the mob mentality and put her down even further.  She was the victim.

But unlike most in our society who are victims, this young woman, Carleigh O’Connell, turned the other cheek and posed right in front of the graffiti showing exactly what the bullies were making fun of her about.  Carleigh, like Peter tells us, did “not fear the intimidation”. Instead of being or acting like the victim, Carleigh rose above the ridicule and nameless putdowns by people and stood up to those who bullied her and made a statement that not only bullying was wrong, but also that if her standing up makes the difference in one girl or boys life, the picture and the graffiti the strength they find from her taking a stand is well worth this experience.

We as Christians should be no different today.  We as Christians stand on and up to what may seem like unsurmountable obstacles daily, from bullies that egg our vehicles, to people who make fun of us like Carleigh O’Connell, to those who believe they can do no wrong and throw stones at our glass houses we build, live in and hold up to others.  But the reality is that the only answer to any of this is Jesus Christ.  The Christ Who was crucified is also the Christ Who can, does and will set us free from that which binds us on this planet we call earth.  Jesus Christ is the only person Who walked this earth perfectly and the only person Who empowers us through our receipt of His precious Body and Blood this morning to stand up against those who put us down.  I as a Pastor fail miserably daily, my family, my faith and even my God, but God forgives me, picks me up, brushes me off and says, try this again.  This is the loving God I not only work for, but am thankful for each and every day.

This is the same opportunity God offers us this morning as we come and partake of His precious Body and Blood.  We are empowered not to be apathetic or turn the other way when we see people bullying and being bullied, even here in church, but we are empowered to stand in the gap, like Carleigh and be a model for our broken world.  Forty five years ago today man stood on the moon in triumph of a decades work, not only looking back by remembering the people whose shoulders they stood upon, but looking to the future of a better world.  Can we as Christians do no less today and stand up as the people of God empowered by the Sacrament God offered on the Cross of Calvary of Jesus precious Body and Blood, shared with each other today and with all of mankind of all time and place, even on the moon?  For it is clear, God’s Son came in order that we might be set free to be the people of God, stand in the gap and be empowered as God’s witness for our fallen world.  For this is not for a select few, but including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.



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