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Sunday, October 5, 2014

10052014 Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity

Gospel Reading
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.
We are no different 3000 years later
In the faith based movie, Courageous, Adam, the main character encounters a reality dreaded by all parents, the loss of a child.  For Adam, a policeman who faces dangerous situations  by putting his own life on the line daily, with this more personal loss the questions were numerous and the answers were scarce, but the meaning and implication was very personal and the hurt was very tangible.  In the same way, our Old Testament lesson this morning also tells of the loss of a child to a widow woman.  And Elijah, the great prophet is expected to answer her questions of why, but also bring the woman’s son back to life.  The reality is that even Elijah knows, he cannot perform this miracle on his own, Elijah needs God.

We who gather here 3000 years later are not any different than Elijah, the widow woman or Adam from Courageous.  All of us need God, and the church especially today needs God.  But for this woman and we who gather here, we daily doubt if the church and even if God cares.

The mother was deaf because of her reality
For the grief stricken mother, dressed in clothes that are only worn for mourning, hunched over the lifeless body of her son, any words spoken by Elijah would clearly fall on deaf ears.  This woman isn’t listening, she has mentally and emotionally shut down.  Because her world, her child, lay motionless in the bed.  But Elijah knows his actions done by God through him will either break this woman’s faith or enable her to see that God does care for her and her son.

Here and now vs. eternity!
For this mother, she sees clearly the ‘here and now’, but does not understand how her present reality connects to eternity.  This woman cannot see past her grief and fear of being alone like she was before Elijah entered her life and the eternal implications.  We who gather here today are no different, our choices we make on a daily basis have eternal consequences, but we, being human, lash out at our friends, neighbors and especially our family in fear, because of the unknown or it isn’t going our way.  Whether how we will pay the farm note, put food on the table, the clothes we wear or even how we will give back to God here at church.  Our reality, the here and now, crowds out of the picture our eternal consequences and God’s potential impact.

Paul and the Ephesians
Enter Paul, and his letter to the Ephesians.  In his letter, Paul connects clearly and puts down in black and white what Elijah portrayed and lived in the sight of and for the widow and as an example for us today.  Simply Paul wants us to, not lose heart, be strengthened, you will comprehend the love of Christ, so that you will be filled with the fullness of God.  This is all about God and His promises and how God fulfills them for this mother through Elijah and even for each of us gathered here today in the name of Jesus Christ.

The role of the Spirit of God
The reason God continues to be interested in each of us today is because of God’s promises, from the Garden of Eden to the desert where this mother mourns her child to we who gather here at Emmanuel Lutheran in Goodland, KS.  The promise that God made to Adam and Eve in the Garden, the widow and to us today was to give us the Spirit of God.  God’s Spirit is inside of us through our baptism and we can find comfort in this gift from God.  But daily we doubt God.  When we are struck by the arrows that Satan loses at us, they find their mark and we easily forget about the Spirit of God, doubt the Spirit of God exists inside of us and wonder why we feel ‘alone’.  This widow was no different than any of us gathered here today and all of us especially the church need the Spirit of God today in each of our lives.

God’s Spirit Strengthen’s us
And today in the most powerful way God reaches from heaven into each of our lives and offers us His Son, Jesus Christ.  Not only does God change the playing field and landscape of our reality, he navigates us to a different truth that is fulfilled in the Spirit of God in our lives.  Just as it was no accident that Elijah came into the widows life and prophesied about her son’s birth, Elijah also had a purpose of showing the clear action of the Spirit of God by raising her son from the dead.  Today when we partake of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood, God’s Spirit enters into each of us again to strengthen us in our daily lives.

We will comprehend the love of Christ
As God strengthens us we are enabled to see with the eyes of faith, given to us in our Baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  We no longer will be blinded by the devil and society or what is ‘accepted’ by those around us who only have an earthly perspective, but we through our remembering our baptism will be made new through the gift of God in Jesus Christ.  When we make the decision to come forward to partake of Jesus Christ Body and Blood around His altar this morning we will more fully comprehend the love of Jesus Christ for each and every one of us.  And this is the same love lived out by Elijah for the widow.  This event was pointing to what Jesus Christ would do on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind nearly 1000 years later.  And we who live 3000 years after Elijah and the widow can be filled to overflowing with the love and fullness of God as was promised to us and shared for and with us in our baptism and be strengthened by God and clearly comprehend the love of Christ for each of us on a daily basis.

So what are we to be as the church?
Yet, the elephant in the room is what does this have to do with the church?  Last week I spoke of our finding purpose for our lives.  How we need to find and have a purpose for each of us.  But today, for the church where we are gathered this morning, “what are we to be as the church?”

One of my pastoral mentors loved the ocean and would spend as much time there as he could and he found a picture that represented what the church was to be.  It simply was a lighthouse with its keeper standing outside of the door of the lighthouse.  The lighthouse protecting the man from the ocean was at the center of the picture.  If you were to step back and see the full picture, a wave, not 10 feet, not 25 feet, but 75-100 feet tall was crashing into the lighthouse on the opposite side, but the keeper was unmoved.

This picture epitomizes for me what the church can and should be.  The church is a place of safety from the waves of life that crash against us.  The church is built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ and His Word.  And we should not shy away from engaging each other as well as the world and be a beacon of what Jesus Christ did for all of mankind and offers each of us today.  We have the opportunity to show and share the Spirit of God in our lives and be the church of Jesus Christ with a purpose which was built on the foundation of the meal we are about to share.

Our sermon hymn this morning is a favorite of mine because it reminds me of four things, We need God, God is in control, He gives us His Body and Blood and God daily offers all of us grace and mercy even though we don’t deserve it.  This is the reality that God changes for each of us on a daily basis.  God offers mercy to all of us by coming to church weekly and through our sharing the story of Elijah, the widow and her son who was raised from the dead.  God shows clearly he does care for us.  God’s care is not only from a story from 3000 years ago, but made clearly manifest for each of us today in sharing His Son’s precious Body and Blood.  In this meal God imparts to each of us the love, the truth and the reality that like the lighthouse, God is here to protect us from the waves of life.  This is a protection God offers for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning seeking God’s presence.  AMEN.

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