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Sunday, May 17, 2015

05172015 Sunday After the Ascension - We are kept from stumbling

Gospel Audio (Will be added soon!)
Sermon Audio (Will be added soon!)

May 17, 2015
We are kept from stumbling
Have you ever stubbed your toe?  Or have you tripped over something that was in your way.  Whether the toy or messy living room that was left by one of your children.  The hitch on the trailer that you thought you had cleared when filling the seed box getting ready to plant or even a tree root that you have walked over countless years and one time you catch your toe just right and fall to the ground.  We all have had these experiences.  Whether it was the Lego’s or Lincoln Logs in the living room, the teddy bear in the hall or even the shoes that should have been left by the door or in the mud room.  We clearly stumble easily, whether toddlers who get to running to fast and even older adults who move more slowly or need help from walkers or canes.  All of us are susceptible to stumbling both physically, mentally and emotionally.

 Yet as Christians, God clearly doesn’t want us to stumble in our faith life, but we do.  We daily encounter people who lure us away from God.  We encounter a culture who even questions our need of God and the feeling that events are more important than daily encounters with the almighty.  From sports teams that play on Sunday, our own desire to ‘have a day of rest’ from the business of life, to even our relegating God to tomorrow or next week or the next holiday, because we have so much we feel we need to do today in order to pay the bills.  We daily fall clearly into the trap set by evil and fall away from God, whether in what we watch on television or the internet, what we look at in the store or online and even here in worship, when we don’t listen to the readings, but let our minds wander.  We stumble and fall.

Could God get mad about this and at us?  Yes, God could easily be very angry with each and every one of us, even me the Pastor.  But God doesn’t get mad, doesn’t get even and doesn’t hold a grudge against us.  God loves us, with an unmistakable love that is above and beyond what we deserve.  God Who loves us and wants us to know of His boundless compassion and love does something that would be out of character for mankind.  God gives us a gift.  And this gift is none other than the Holy Spirit.

You see this past week on Thursday, the church celebrated Jesus Christ ascension into heaven.  Hence why the Pascal Candle has moved yet again.  From its being on the level with the people of God when Jesus came in the manger, it was next moved to next to the Baptismal Font with His Resurrection and now is at the Right Hand of God.  This is where our Creed’s we confess clearly every Sunday show where Jesus is today.  But now that we are alone after Jesus ascension, how can the Holy Spirit be a gift.

Simply the Holy Spirit is the gift from God of God’s presence here among us and for us today.  No matter the season of the church year we always have a clear and present representation of the Holy Spirit here in worship.  When I walk into the sanctuary at night, I always can look and see the Eternal Light, God’s reminder to and for we who gather here in His house, of God’s eternal presence with us in the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit daily keeps us from stumbling.  This is the clear job of the Holy Spirit to keep us from stumbling in the darkness that surrounds us.  The Holy Spirit is the reminder for each of us of God’s Love for us and His abiding Holy Spirit given to each and every one of us.  We are not left alone.

For the Holy Spirit has four tasks in each of our lives as Martin Luther says.  First the Holy Spirit calls us.  We are not just called, “Christians”, we are called by name.  When we stumble, the Holy Spirit calls our names, gently and firmly, but the Holy Spirit also reminds us that God is there to love us, forgive us and protect us.

Second the Holy Spirit gathers us together.  We are gathered here as the Body of Christ.  We have heard God’s Word, we will be receiving in a few moments His Sacrament of Jesus Christ True Body and Blood.  And we gather in unity like a family not only as a symbol, but a clear confession we are God’s Children.

Third, God’s Holy Spirit promised to us by Jesus Christ enlightens us daily.  When we see the sun rise in the morning when headed to the field, the smile of our children or parents, this is a gift for us from the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and clearly demonstrate God’s continued love for us each and every day.

And finally God sanctifies us.  Sanctify is a ’50 cent’ word.  It simply means, God makes us Holy.  God through the Holy Spirit not only sanctifies and makes us holy, but keeps us in the one true faith we have been baptized into and called by God to guard, protect and proclaim in our daily lives.
God gives us the Holy Spirit to be His Witness.  James says it so well, we need to be ‘doers of the Word’, ‘not just hearers’.  This is how the Holy Spirit gives us the spirit of power and might to stand up and proclaim that Jesus Christ died for all of mankind.

The best example of this comes not from outside of our church, but inside.  Last year, the Pre-School program of our Vacation Bible School took time and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to pray.  The whole class was given an opportunity to pray and through their words, of both boys and girls, their prayers inspired by the Holy Spirit not only melted the hear
ts of everyone, but were bold witnesses of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in each of them.  Each child showed their faith and the strength given by the Holy Spirit in their lives.

The witness they gave not only inspired each other to pray with boldness, but even inspired the leaders to tell me of the power they felt resonating from the mouths of the children entrusted to us.  This is how the Holy Spirit not only emboldens us, but insures we will not stumble when we fully rely upon Him.  For the Gift of the Holy Spirit is not only for a select few, but for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning insuring we are kept from stumbling by the Holy Spirit.  AMEN.

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