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Monday, September 8, 2014

090702014 Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

Gospel Audio
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.

With the beginning of school and football season there are certain sacrifices and mainstays that families make to let the kids know they care and are proud of their child and the teams they play on.  Whether it is making sure that their child doesn’t miss a practice, game or match, whether football, volleyball, cross country or even golf.  Parents taking off work and driving hours to games in order to root them on.  And even buying jersey’s and other gear in order to support their team and town, we clearly sacrifice in order for our kids to feel a sense of support, accomplishment and fitting in when they head back to school.  Really this is a healthy pride we take that it is our kid, our town and our team.

It is not that our society demands this level of commitment, but as parents, we look to our schools, clubs and secular organizations to find fulfillment, a sense of family or common purpose and even a place where we are accepted and can be part of the group during the week.  This is why we wear the jersey’s, hats and colors of our teams, black and gold for the Goodland Cowboys.  The purple and gray for K-State, or blue of KU and chant the sayings, “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk”.  Or even our pro football teams like the Bronco’s or Chiefs.  We want this feeling of togetherness and sameness with people that root for ‘our team’, are on our sidelines rooting our favorite players on and celebrating when we win.

Even outside of sports in our community we see this with our selection of farm equipment, John Deere, Case or New Holland, the vehicles we drive, Ford, Chevy, Dodge or Toyota and how we farm the ground, whether strip till or no till.  Or hair styles, short or long, styled, straight or permed.  Makeup that we wear or even our jewelry of rings, necklaces and broaches.  Nevertheless the reality we find and live in is that, we all have different teams, we all have different favorite players and we all have different colors, jewelry and styles that we wear and put on.  We are unique and we are individuals as God made us to be.

But, there is one place where our differences cannot and should not divide us, here in the church.  Our collective understanding and calling of our religious community is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Weekly we come to hear what Jesus Christ has done for all of mankind and be empowered to go and share the Good News, the Gospel of our salvation with everyone we meet.  However, after coming to worship, outside of these four walls, we don’t wear a certain color of clothes that identify us as Christians.  We don’t have a chant that remains our battle cry as we depart from worship every week, nor do we have common and shared expectations of members nor about what we are expected to do once outside the doors of the church.  Our only point of commonality that we point to when here for worship is to hear our organ, see Jesus above the altar and check the box that says we were here this week.  But the reality is that we need to change our motives, our methods and our mantra.  We need to hear, see and lay claim to the truth that our adequacy is from God.  Let me state that again, “We need to hear, see and lay claim to the truth that our adequacy is from God.”  The church needs to show you how God changed the playing field for all of us and where He did it.  The church needs to pull back the cover or veil of our personal experience that covers our eyes and let us see Jesus Christ for Who He is and God for what He has done for us.  The church needs to feed you with the food of God to do God’s work.

Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians stated it clearly, “our adequacy is from God”.  We who gather here today have been empowered, not by the food we eat at our homes and tables, but we are empowered by God and His Spirit for clear action.  Paul says, “the Spirit gives life”.  Like a shot of adrenaline given when someone’s heart is not acting or beating properly, God gives us the shot of adrenaline of His Holy Spirit when we come to church to empower us to action in our daily lives and our weekly encounters outside of these four walls.

Think if you will when you watch a football team huddle up before a game.  They gather centered around their coach who not only is the cheerleader for them, but the person that they focus upon and listen to and he starts a chant and charge to get them excited, pumped up and ready to ‘go to battle’ with the other team.  The chant starts small, but builds with the excitement and anticipation that nothing is in their way and nothing can hold them back from scoring touchdowns, holding onto the ball, holding the line and insuring the score always remains with them as the victor.  That huddle is a perfect metaphor for we who gather here today for worship.

We are huddled here in our church, within the four walls built by the hands of our forefathers, focused upon Jesus Christ, our Coach, in the Word we have heard, above the altar in the stained glass and on the altar in the Sacrament, but we are empowered to begin our chant of the forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers for all of mankind, but especially all of us gathered here today.  God sends His Holy Spirit to embrace us and enliven us and give us the shot of adrenaline to pump us up in the Spirit of God to reach out to the people we encounter daily.  We have the greatest opportunity to spread the message, fulfill the mission and not put points on a board, but help and enable people’s names to be written on the book of life that God has in His possession.

But it requires us to have one desire and one focus, the glory of God and His “ministry of righteousness”.  I have been talking the past few weeks of “Back to Church Sunday”.  We are gathered in our huddle today to be empowered by the Spirit of God to seek and save the lost.  Remember the acronym that I chose to use, PAW, pray, ask and watch.  First, pray for two or three people you know that do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  Those that don’t know Jesus Christ, or have become distant to the church.  The purpose of our praying is so God can break the hard soil of people’s hearts that have never heard the Gospel or it has been a long time and for us to pray for them to come and hear what God is offering us through Jesus Christ.

Then ask the persons you have prayed for to come and hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  Ask them to come and hear the Gospel of Salvation of Jesus Christ and His innocent death for them and for all of us.  Ask them to come and hear clearly that God wants them to have a personal relationship with His Son.

Finally watch as God follows through.  God will work.  We sometimes just need to like at the football game, sit on the sidelines and watch.  Think about the players who during that the entire week, worked hard in the drills of agility, speed, ball handling, punt returns, field goals and the ‘two minute drill’.  They sometimes only get to see the game from the sideline.  But they have been involved in the first two aspects in preparation.  The same is true for we Christians, we need to pray and ask and then watch as God works in the persons life that we have lifted up in prayer.

We become cheerleaders and the crowd for the game that is happening in their lives.  We do not have the control of the ball, nor are we the referee’s nor the announcer.  We are on the sidelines watching how God’s plan will unfold, but we have been instrumental in the work of God in the persons life we have prayed for, asked to come and hear God’s invitation for a personal relationship and now see how God is working in their life.

Rick Warren wrote a book entitled, “The Purpose Driven Church” that was the rage in church growth in the late 1990’s.  Warren stated that drawing people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was like a game, in his case a baseball diamond.  In the truest sense, we are in this same game, whether we use baseball, volleyball or football, but we are together in this game and opportunity to seek the lost together.

Pastor and people, we are not alone, we are not mavericks only in it for ourselves.  We gather here not to stop after every service we have and count how many people gathered here, what the total was on the offering and make note who wasn’t here.  We gather here every week to honor God with however many people come and invite our friends to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. We gather to personally get involved in the game of life of the people we know and love on them as God empowers us through His Word and Sacrament and invite them into the personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.

We gather here today to be fed with His precious Body and Blood and empowered to prepare for our week in the world, with the firm conviction that God is using us to reach out to the lost and all that intersect our paths.  We gather here today to celebrate and understand “our adequacy is from God”, for all of mankind including those we pray for, ask to come and watch as God sends His Holy Spirit into their lives and then into our huddle filled with the Holy Spirit and the Glory of God.  AMEN.

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