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Sunday, September 28, 2014

09282014 Fifteenth 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.

An image that ‘sells’
Last Sunday night we sat around the table after baptizing Justin, Cheyenne and Jacob and did what most people do in the fall, we talked about sports.  Not just any sport, but football, specifically the nice win of Nebraska over Miami, ironically they did it again last night with Illinois.  Here in the heartland the game of football is as important for some as breathing, how much rain we had and the bushel made on dry land corn versus irrigated corn.  For some famous football players of yester year, their image has been used by business to make money.  Whether Franco Harris and tossing the jersey for the Coca-Cola commercial or even the famous Clydsdales that made Superbowl history with their yearly commercials.  Or even Bubba Smith who was famous for tackling quarterbacks and later known for tearing the tops off of beer with the mantra of ‘taste great…less filling’ for ‘light beer’.  Today we are surrounded, bombarded and inundated by ads for everything from beverages to seeds to which pills we need, but the reality is all of these ads have one goal in mind, to get we the consumer to buy what they are selling, because of the image of the person on the screen.

Are we trying to ‘sell religion’?
Last week was Back to Church Sunday and we as a congregation celebrated with the Blessing of the Quilts and Layettes.  Is the church any different trying to ‘sell religion’ or the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  We try to show how we impact our world by the kits we put together and the quilts that we sew, in the hopes not only of getting more people to come and serve, but also all in the name of Jesus.  I as Pastor sometimes feel like our society at times, trying to sell church and our impact beyond these four walls.

Unless the Spirit is in us, we are ‘trying to sell religion’
But the reality is unless the Spirit of God is in me as Pastor and we as a congregation, we will not be able to bring others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Our Epistle or New Testament reading this morning was written by Paul to the Galatians.  The Galatian people who though good followers of Jewish law were being put down by the Judaizers who believed the only way to God was through Jewish custom.  Not only did both Paul and the Jews try to ‘sell’ their beliefs, just as the big companies still do today, they were clearly making each other to be the enemy.  We are no different today, when we talk of our favorite sports teams, we know our favorites by the colors we wear and the games we attend and hold our teams as the best and favorite and others as the ‘opposition’.  Consider if you will the rivalry between the Bronco’s and Chiefs, KU and K-State, the Rockies and Royals.  We sell our teams.  Paul in the same way with this letter is trying to ‘sell’ the true benefits of being a believer in Jesus Christ.

Are you a bear or burro?  What are we to do?  “Bear one another’s burdens”
This reading clearly asks a question for us to consider, when Paul empowers the Galatian people to “Bear one another’s burdens”.  The question that came to my mind, “Are you a bear or a burro?”  We know that a bear can be protective, whether a mother bear that cares for her young or a male that is protecting his hunting grounds.  But a burro is the exact opposite, it is a beast of burden, meant to carry the heavy load of its master.  As a Christian, are we bears or burro’s?  Do we protect ourselves, our own domains, areas and interests rather than seeing the greater good for everyone?  When challenged do we swoop in like a mother bear protecting her cubs and lash out no matter how we are received?  As a Pastor, this is a personal challenge.  There are times that my personality gets in the way of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I am not heard, whether in meetings, individual conversation or even from here in the pulpit.  This is one reason for my visits to the congregation for me to personally apologize for my being a bear and not a burro and for everyone to hear from me personally not only my confession, but my opportunity to seek forgiveness from you the people of God and become a better burro.

We are called good to all people!
Paul later in the reading says clearly, “the one who sows the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life…let us do good to all people”.  This is what I need to personally and professionally hear.  Not just the admonition of Paul first given to the Galatians, but clearly proclaim, that God is calling me personally and all of us to ‘do good to all people’.  We are called to ‘bear one another’s burdens’, be the light of Christ and live the life, not of ‘selling religion’, but living the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our broken world for those who so desperately need to hear what Jesus Christ has done for them.

We are called to be a burro...bear others burdens.
We have been called by God through our baptism into the greatest opportunity, to not only ‘do good to all people’, but be a burro and bear our fellow Christians burdens.  How can we do this, it is not simple, but we can begin by answering four questions.  In the coming weeks, I will take one of these questions every week and apply it to our lesson and community here at Emmanuel.  The four questions are, Why does the church exist?  What are we to be as a church?  What are we to do as a church?  How are we to do it?  These questions I first read in Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Church”.

Why does the church exist?
First, Why does the church exist?  Paul gives us the answer, we are to “bear one another’s burdens”.  We are called as the people of God to live a life of purpose.  Our purpose is simple not to sell the church, but to live and be the church of Jesus Christ.  We are called as our opening hymn told the story, to ‘serve Whom we adore’.  God is calling us to mission, the mission of sharing the Gospel of Salvation with all of mankind.  God will grant us the wisdom and the courage to be a model and bear the burdens of those around us and have a kingdom impact, not just in another country, but right here in Goodland.

We live for a purpose to glorify God.
Daily we encounter lives that are shipwrecked on the shoals of adversity, from broken relationships, communication that is not understood, to a lack of concern for the welfare of others or even the lack of having a role model of what relationship is truly meant to be.  But God is calling each of us to bear each other’s burdens and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ by living it out in our daily lives.  This is the mission of the church the opportunity of the people of God and our higher calling, because we are responsible for ourselves, but also for how we portray Christ in our lives.

We seek to have a ‘greater purpose’ in life.
Nowhere was this more true than for a man who was well known in football, I mentioned him earlier, Bubba Smith.  Well known for not only being a hard hitter, he also was the spokesman for beer.  “Taste’s great…less filling” the mantra that he heard even at his alma mater of Michigan State.  When returning after retirement, he heard from the stands his famous tag line and came to the realization that by his endorsing this product of beer, he was saying to young people everywhere it was alright to drink beer.  It also hit home for him on a beach in Florida while vacationing where he heard young college kids chanting the same mantra.  After this experience when his contract came up for renewal he declined the opportunity to continue the legacy he began, even though the money was good and brought him instant notoriety.  Not because he personally had never drunk a beer in his life, but because of the impact he had made and he didn’t want to be known as a promoter, advocate or cheerleader of beer and its consumption.  Bubba Smith wanted his life to have a greater purpose.

We find our purpose in Jesus Christ!
Today we are called to a life with a greater purpose in His Kingdom as God’s children.  Not only to bear one another’s burdens, but allow God to chart our path in life and trust Him to use us for His glory. Our sermon hymn today entitled, “Jesus Savior Pilot Me” clearly states what we need.  May God pilot our lives and enable us to bear one another’s burdens as Jesus Christ bore our sins on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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