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Sunday, July 26, 2015

07262015 8th Sunday After Trinity - We are children of God...heirs of God!

Sermon Audio (Will be posted soon!)

July 26, 2015
We are children of God…heirs of God!
“Congratulations, you have just won, the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes!”  For years these words were dreamed of by many people throughout our country.  Television commercials were filmed, media hype was in full gear on television, in the mail, newspapers and even magazines.  Everybody knew what Publisher’s Clearing House was and that you were going to win at least a million dollars.  At that time, it was a large sum of money.  There were even some people who would on the day the winners were announced would keep an eye out at their door, because, they wanted to be the big winners.  Unlike today of seeing the post on Facebook that the ‘prize van’ has been spotted in the neighborhood, the excitement was so tangible before cell phones and the internet that if someone saw balloons or the ‘prize van’ in their neighborhood, people would run out into their yards, chasing the van, hoping to be the heirs of the prize being given. 

In light of this, why are Christians not as excited about eternal life?  Why are Christians not as excited about coming to church, where we hear the Word of God or receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life from God?  Why are Christians not as excited about being the heir of eternal life from Jesus Christ?  Why are we not as excited about church as people were for ‘Publisher’s Clearing House’, the fair, a new restaurant or even Friday night football under the lights or watching a wrestling match at the Max?  Simply it may be we do not clearly understand that we Christians, we who gather at church, whether here at Emmanuel or any other Christian church, “We are children of God…heirs of God!”.

Paul, the author of the Letter to the Romans and our epistle this morning gives a little insight to our heritage and puts flesh on what being an heir of God means.  Some would even say, Paul rolls up the proverbial newspaper and whacks Christians on the nose.  We don’t like the feeling of being ‘outed’ for what we have chosen to do and what we make a priority, yet Paul goes so far as to say, “we are obligated” as Christians.  Yet, we probably wonder and ask, what are we obligated to as Christians?  We think of school and making sure our children get to school as an obligation or ‘requirement’, paying our taxes or bank and land payments, making sure the pivots that water the corn is an obligation to our employer, our job and our lifestyle, but our obligation here in the church is not ‘law based’, but Gospel based.  We live by grace, how can grace and the forgiveness of sins have an obligation associated with it?

Paul wants us to understand we should be excited about church and about bringing others, not out of obligation, but out of the sheer joy of what we will receive, eternal life as heirs of God.  Last week, it was stated by Paul earlier in Romans that we receive eternal life, for since “we are children of God…heirs of God” we receive the greatest gift of God entrance into heaven for all eternity. 

Yet, as a free gift we should want to share it with others and have a desire to bring others to hear the good news.  But it is sometimes hard for us, because we don’t want to be seen as an evangelist or ‘fundamentalist Christian’.  Just as we love to tell our friends, neighbors and family of the impending birth of a child or grandchild, the Good News of Jesus Christ should have the same urgency and joy.  We should feel a clear desire to get up and tell others about what God is offering us through His Son Jesus Christ.

If we don’t feel this way, don’t want to share the message of the Gospel, don’t want to share what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary, don’t want others to hear about free salvation offered by Jesus Christ we then must not love our neighbors, family or friends.  But I don’t think this is our intention, nor our personal belief.  But our not telling others is exactly what the devil wants us to do and be, not tell the Good News.  The devil wants us to be apathetic and not share the gift of God for all of mankind.

Recently, I was reminded of how important our mission and ministry here at Emmanuel is for not only the church, but each of us individually and what an influence we can have upon others.  So profound is the mission and ministry of Emmanuel that it was clearly demonstrated by an event that began in our Vacation Bible School.

One of the craft ideas that was used for the Pre-Schoolers was painting Crosses.  This may seem like a no brainer, the painting of a cross at VBS, but in the end it had a profound impact.  When the activity was first conceived, there were enough crosses that each of the children could make more than one.  An idea was thought up by Michele, my wife.  What about having each of the children make an extra cross and they be taken to Wheat Ridge to be given to the residents.  One thing led to another and the activity was completed by the kids during the week.  The kids were excited and loved having the opportunity to paint a little more.  So Friday afternoon the week of VBS, Michele took, the crosses, with one of the children who helped make the crosses and two other campers from VBS.

As was told to me later, the residents at Wheat Ridge loved the gift of the crosses.  These simple gifts made by the small hands of the Pre-School group made the residents feel they were connected, to our Vacation Bible School here at Emmanuel.  Not only were they connected, they were purposefully thought of and were remembered with the cross and what it stands for, eternal life offered by Jesus Christ.

What makes this more poignant, is that the idea was originally meant only for the members of Emmanuel who live at Wheat Ridge.  However, once word spread around Wheat Ridge, which was surprising since the residents don’t move as fast, of the gift of the crosses, residents who saw the three little girls stopped them in the halls and were asking if there were enough crosses for them to have one as well.

The cross decorated by the children, though simple to make, showed how important our connection with the residents at Wheat Ridge is for the message of the Gospel.  How profound the message of Jesus Christ is and what an impact it can have when we take the time to share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet.  We are called to this mission and ministry to share in the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all of mankind, but especially including all of mankind knowing the truth that “we are children of God, but especially heirs of God” who are offered eternal life through Jesus Christ.  Let’s share that Gospel message and the love of Jesus Christ for all of mankind and be the Church.  AMEN.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

07232015 Funeral Sermon Sylvia Mae Hybl

Sermon Audio (Will be posted soon!)

Funeral Sermon
Sylvia Mae Hybl
July 23, 2015

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!

If you were to travel to the desert southwest, it is clear that not only is it dry and a desert, but everything, from the vegetation, the animals and even the people have struggled being controlled.  From trying to establish a life, a home and even a living, it is clear that everyone living there struggles, whether with making a living or even being controlled by the situations they encounter.  Sylvia loved the Southwest.  When travelling there to help her friends, Sylvia felt at home.  But there was a reason why the Southwest was her favorite place.  Sylvia like a lot of us gathered here today struggled throughout her life.  We who gather struggle with health, jobs, relationships, school or a reality or a past that we had no control over.  But in the desert, the struggle that Sylvia personally felt was diminished.  Sylvia felt free to be the person that God had made her to be.

Today, we gather, not in a desert, but as family and friends who have encountered death very clearly and closely with our loss of Sylvia.  Sylvia no longer struggles.  She is accepted and she has been welcomed.  For today we gather to celebrate the fulfillment by God of the promise made to Sylvia in her Holy Baptism.  Though life seemed to continuously knock her down, Sylvia was promised by God very clearly an offer of grace that could not be duplicated, nor equaled by any here on earth.  For when God by the hands of a Shepherd He chose washed Sylvia with Water and the Word of God in Holy Baptism, God offered Sylvia eternal life and salvation by her baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.

With Water intimately connected to Word, God offered to Sylvia the gift of eternal life.  When we spoke only a few short weeks ago, we both knew that Sylvia’s time here on earth was short.  We laughed, we cried, we talked of the times at Spillville and the fireworks, our summer visits by all of her family, siblings, nieces and nephews, and all of the people she held dear.  We also talked about the truth she had heard from her birth of what Jesus Christ offered her in Holy Baptism.  And that when the time came God would fulfill His promise to her with her entrance into eternity, her entrance into the church triumphant, her entrance into the place prepared for her by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For Jesus words found in the Gospel of St. John I just read are true.  God has prepared a place for Sylvia.  But God prepared it, not because she deserved it, but clearly and specifically because of His great love for Sylvia and for all of mankind.  You see, Jesus Christ prepared a place for Sylvia, because He wants to relieve the struggles we carry today.  We struggle with relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we struggle with our weight, we struggle with how we are treated by friends, family and especially our society, but God in preparing a place for us makes good on the promise made to each of us in our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.

You see, Jesus said it plainly, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself”.  And God has received Sylvia into His Holy Hands.  God clearly and firmly now has lifted all the struggles from Sylvia and now she rests with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  For the struggles she dealt with have been paid and atoned for by Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary.  No longer does Sylvia have the pain associated with her body, nor the weight of the world she carried for all the cats that she loved throughout the years.  Sylvia no longer bears the burdens of sin, because Jesus Christ lifted all of that from her shoulders and offered her eternal life with the forgiveness He won for her and for each of us on Calvary.

So now Sylvia today clearly rests in the place prepared for her and one day for each of us, by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Yet, this only occurs, because of something Sylvia firmly believed.  You see when Sylvia lived in Arizona, she enjoyed singing in the choir.  One Easter her choir sang a song that clearly proclaimed not only the preparation of a place for each of us in God’s Kingdom, but a clear truth we who gather here today need to hear and sing from the roof tops.

On that Easter Sunday, the choir sang, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”.  That Easter Ballad clearly states our belief in Jesus Christ and what He did in His rising from the grave.  He was triumphant and conquered even death for each of us.  But especially stanza 7 states, “He Lives my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there.”

Today God fulfills this for Sylvia and one day for each of us.  May we not only believe Jesus Christ lives, but He offers us the greatest gift of grace for all of mankind with His life that He lived, His death where He conquered that which confronts us today, but especially His resurrection that we have been baptized into.  For God’s gift of grace is freely given for each of us and may God’s Gospel comfort each of us, but especially Virginia, Dick, Chuck and Gloria and all the family who come to say goodbye to Sylvia as she now rests from her labors in her Lord and Saviors arms.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds and may we find comfort and peace from our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ Who holds Sylvia in His Holy Arms.  AMEN.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

07192015 7th Sunday After Trinity - We are given the free gift of God...eternal life!

Sermon Audio (Will be posted soon)

July 19, 2015
We are given the free gift of God…eternal life!

Today we gather here at Emmanuel, not in a prison, but as prisoners set free.  Let me explain.  You see we who gather here today who have been baptized into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection are no longer in the shackles of the devil, bound by our temptation to go against God and His Word.  We when Water and Word were poured over our heads and the sign of the cross made over our hearts were set free.  Like a prisoner who has been in the jail cell, solitary confinement and not seen the light of day for years, we have been set free by the Blood of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, Jesus Christ.  We have been set free out of the great love of God for all of mankind, but especially for each and every one of us and we have been given our freedom.  But it is not any ordinary freedom, in our freedom, “we are given the free gift of God…eternal life!”

The gift God has given us former prisoners is the gift that leads to life eternal.  When God made us whole through Water and Word, the bonds of sin were loosed and we have been set free.  The darkness that surrounded us and hemmed us in was the prison we felt in our hearts and it no longer has dominion over us and we are free in Christ having been given the “free gift of God…eternal life!”  And this gift is given because of God’s love for us manifest in what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary that offers us freedom and eternal life.

But our society and you might ask, “I don’t feel free, so what proof do you have?”  The proof of our freedom comes from what we receive from the Altar of God.  From the Altar, when we partake of Jesus Christ Body and Blood, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins, we receive eternal life.  Our partaking of God’s Holy Supper prepared for us and first instituted for us on Maundy Thursday by Jesus Christ, it is a foretaste of the feast to come of eternal life.  With our taking the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ on our lips we partake of the Mystical Meal that God has prepared and it is “the free gift of God” for the people of God.  We receive from God the gift of His Son and salvation for each and every one of us.

No longer then are we prisoners, but with our receipt of Jesus Christ Body and Blood, we become inheritors of eternal life and salvation and no longer are bound in any prison of the devil’s making.  Yet, the devil is wily and tempts us with all of his tricks to not only question God, but doubt even God’s existence and God’s love for us.  When we lose our crops to storms, winter kill, hail and dry weather, the devil seeks to get us to question God.  Consider Job who lost everything, family, goods, livestock and ultimately disease on his own body, it was not caused by God, but it was caused by the devil.  Because the devil believed Job would deny God.  But Job didn’t and we shouldn’t doubt or deny God either, no matter what we lose, encounter in our daily lives nor what might happen to us.
For God wants us to trust Him and believe that what we receive from the Altar is not only the gift of God, but a clear and manifest gift of eternal life.  For God’s gift given offers us a clear relationship with Him in a very tangible way that all of us so desperately want.  The relationship we want we are offered daily, but we sometimes don’t do the simplest thing and seek to find the relationship God seeks to have with us.

There was once a young man named John, who loved his Father and only wanted one thing from his father.  It wasn’t a relationship, but a car.  As John neared graduation like most kids, John dropped hints every chance he could that all he ever wanted was a new car.  His father was well to do and money was not an issue.

The day of the sons graduation came and the son was excited.  Through all the pomp and circumstance, the son, only thought of the neatly wrapped present laying on the table at home.  After the ceremony and greeting all the friends and well wishers, the son finally arrived home and found his father waiting with the present in his hand.  Hurriedly, the boy unwrapped the present.  It was a box.  Inside the box he thought would be the keys to his new car.  He opened the box and to his utter shock and dismay, wasn’t the keys, but a Holy Bible, with his name embossed on the front cover.  With the Bible on a card, a simple statement, “Enclosed is My Gift to you!  Love, Dad”.  In utter shock and amazement believing that what the Bible said was the gift, John threw the bible at his father and ran out of the house and never returned.

Many years later, the father passed away.  The son heard of his Father’s passing, but didn’t even bother to show up to honor his memory, even though he lived in the same city.  Days passed and one evening, while home alone, there was a knock on his door.  Having remained a bachelor obsessed with his life and trying to make up for the disappointment he felt from his family, he rose from his chair to find a man in a business suit at his door.  The man asked to come in and seeing no harm, John invited him in.  After the pleasantries were shared, the man simply stated, “I was asked to come here and give you this.”  Handing a box to John, he immediately recognized it as the box from his graduation, 50 years earlier.  He tried to give the box back, but the businessman continued, “I have been instructed to give you this box and to tell you to open it and the book.”

Feeling stunned, the now graying man, slowly opened the box and saw the Bible with his name embossed as he had fifty years earlier, with the same card with the message from his father that still revolted him even today.  Carefully he now lifted the Bible out and held it.  As he went to reach for the cover, a piece of ancient paper fell onto his lap.  Immediately he recognized the paper, it was from the local Ford dealership in town.  The paper John now held in his hands was a bill of sale that stated in large red stamped letters, “Paid in Full” for a brand new Cherry Red 1965 Mustang Convertible.

At that very moment, the mistake that John made became crystal clear.  With his throwing the Bible back at his father, he had slammed the door on the prison that had become his life and existence for the next fifty years.

So to for us today, we are being offered from the Altar of God, the key to eternal life found in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  For the Free Gift of God of Eternal Life is offered for all of mankind, but especially including all of us gathered here today.  Will we receive it like the John first did the gift of the Bible and live in bitterness for all eternity?  Or will we see it as the offer of grace of our Father in heaven and be set free from our self-imposed prison?  AMEN.

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07182015 Wedding of Mikail Freeman and Katera Johnson

Sermon Audio (Will be posted soon!)

July 18, 2015
Christ Binds You Together!

I have before you two today a cord.  It’s not just any cord, it is a special kind of cord used to connect an MP3 player, phone, computer or any kind of electronic device to our sound system.  It may seem strange to have this in front of us today as we celebrate your wedding, but you two are technologically savvy and this cord is a great metaphor for us to consider today.
You know we connected with each other and did all of our pre-marital counseling via computers.  We were connected via the electrons, we could see each other, but this cord is more tangible, it carries electrons.  Technology is great, but there is a better and greater connection you two have and are affirming here this afternoon gathered with your family and friends and especially in the sight of God.
John in his epistle which I read earlier, inspires each of us with these words, “love one another, for love is from God”.  How true this is, but God’s love for all of mankind and for you two here in God’s house declaring Your love is manifest for all of mankind simply in His Son Jesus Christ.  You see the love God has for all of mankind is clearly demonstrated by Jesus Christ.  John wrote, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world so that we might live through Him.”  We live and love through Jesus Christ and this is the essence and real meaning of Jesus Christ life and what He did.  Jesus Christ clearly demonstrated His love for us on the Cross of Calvary.
But you two Mikail and Katera have a clearer and more profound connection with God’s love.  Just as this cord connects an iPhone or CD player to the sound system and we were connected by the information super highway to complete the pre-marital counseling, God is connected to mankind, but especially and intimately connected to you two today.  God is connected by the fact and reality that God binds you two together in Holy Matrimony.
Remember when we were together, I described the binding nature of God in Jesus Christ as the third person in this relationship.  How in a few minutes you will join your hands together in front of your family and friends as you kneel before the Altar of God.  Then I using the symbol of my office, the stole, will bind your hands together and this the binding of your hands with the stole will represent Jesus Christ binding you two together. 
Alone as husband and wife you encounter a world that will try and break you two apart, whether it is your own independent streaks, your feeling that you can handle the waves of the world, with job, family or individual situations or circumstances, but these storms of life will break you apart.  But if you put on Christ and continue to be connected to each other and Him.  And remember you are bound by Christ in Holy Matrimony.  And remember in your being bound to each other and united by Christ, nothing will be able to separate you from God.  God through His Son Jesus Christ will demonstrate what true love is.  God will remind you of His love for you and bind you two together as husband and wife united, not as two, but the three, Mikail to Katera and Christ encircling both of you in the palms of His hands.

For it is Jesus Christ binding you together, connecting you together and being shared with one another that His love will radiate from you and your marriage as a clear demonstration of God and the truth that God is love.  Because John concluded our reading with the truth when he said, “if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”  John’s words are my prayer for you.  I pray that you remain connected to one another, better than this cord for the sound system, but that the binding of Jesus Christ may remind each of you of His love for you and His binding of you two together, perfected in Jesus Christ binding the three of you together as husband and wife in His perfect love.  AMEN.
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Monday, July 13, 2015

07122015 6th Sunday After Trinity - We are to walk in newness of life!

Sermon Audio (Will be posted soon)

July 12, 2015
We are to walk in newness of life!
If you were to have read the epistle lesson this morning from Romans 6 and were asked to answer the following question, what would your answer be?  What do you think the main point of Romans 6:1-11 really is?  Is it A.  Jesus died so I can sin as much as I want.  B.  I’ve been baptized so I can live however I want.  C.  I’m freed from sin so I am not bound by my sin by my own doing.
Let me be a little more demonstrative.  (Uncover Answers)

If we were to poll you the members each of you probably would pick different answers.  And that is exactly what Paul was aiming at when he was writing to the Romans.  By inspiration of God, Paul was aiming directly at the root cause of each and every one of our lives, including my own, our fallen humanity, in essence our sin and our personal belief that we don’t sin.

When Paul was writing to the Romans, he was clearly aiming at a previous understanding of church in Judaism, which he was well acquainted and had been their ‘bull dog’, police and religious enforcement, in essence the ‘FBI of Judaism’.  For in the Old Testament, it was ‘works’ or the ‘offering of a burnt sacrifice’ that would please God.  But with Jesus Christ coming, living among men, healing the sick, feeding the poor, teaching the truth found from the Old Testament and ultimately dying on the Cross of Calvary, the works of the Law were fulfilled.  And we who gather here this morning are set free from the bonds of sin, death and the devil, by Jesus Christ, not by our own works.
So you see, each of the answers, I gave were imperfect, just as I am.  For each of the answers, pointed to what we do and have no accountability or responsibility to anyone, even to God.  For our responsibility is found in what Paul continues with.  We who have been baptized are called to a new idea, a new concept, a new calling. [Remove ANSWERS]   In, with and through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and especially His resurrection, we are called to live a new life.  “We are to walk in newness of life!”

Our newness of life is made new through our baptism into Jesus Christ.  When the Water and Word is poured over our heads, we are changed, we are made new and now we are to walk as children of God, brothers and sisters with Jesus Christ.  And our responsibility is three fold.  We are responsible to God, we are responsible to each other and we are responsible to the church.

Clearly we are responsible to God, because He is not only the Creator, but God the Father is the Author and perfecter of our faith.  And it is into His Son Jesus Christ life that we have been baptized.  When the Water and Word was poured over us, God clearly held our parents and our sponsors responsible for our faith life.  When we were confirmed, we took on that responsibility.  But the ultimate responsibility of the fulfillment of all law for all who have been baptized was taken by Jesus Christ.  For the responsibility Jesus Christ had for us and for our lives, He clearly shouldered.  Our sins, past, present and future God placed on the shoulders of Jesus Christ.  For as Paul said, “For the death that He died, He [that is Jesus Christ] died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”  So you see even Jesus Christ was responsible to His Father in heaven for what He did and what Jesus Christ shoulders for each of us.

The responsibility we have to God continues in our responsibility to each other.  Adam and Eve’s son Cain tried to skirt the responsibility of his brother Abel, saying, “am I my brother’s keeper?” and we likewise try and not be responsible for our fellow brother’s and sisters in Christ.  Whether we do this by not confronting them when they go against the will of God, an action in the church or publically or even privately wrong a fellow brother or sister in Christ.  We sometimes even turn a blind eye when someone acts a certain way with the response, ‘that’s just how they are’, or even our children when they clearly disrespect, mistreat or are downright mean, whether to other children on the playground or even we their parents.  But God is clear, we are accountable.  Just as we are accountable for our children, we are accountable for the fellow heirs of the kingdom of God, but we do not do this alone.  Paul wrote this letter to the Romans as a missionary and wanted the people to seek and save the lost.  We are called to spread the Gospel and let the Gospel ‘break our sinful streak’.  We are called to proclaim it to the ends of the earth, because this is our responsibility, in the World, the United States, the state of Kansas, Sherman County and especially here in Goodland.
Because our responsibility which begins with God, spreads to those sitting around us or living next door even and especially spreads to all of us here in the church.  We gather here in this house of worship, proclaiming that God is love and God loves each and every one of us.  We also heard last week that we are to be a blessing in order that we can as Paul says, walk in newness of life.  For our newness is in light of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and His death in order to set us free.  We are free to be God’s children, in mission for God’s purpose to spread the message of Jesus Christ.

No better explanation or example of this can be found than in why Emmanuel was founded.  There was a need for Lutheran services here in Goodland in the late 1800’s.  In 1921 a new initiative was sought for Lutheran services and our congregation held its first service.  We were a mission congregation just as Paul was hoping to inspire the Romans with his epistle.  Our heritage is clear and well documented and the founders of Emmanuel took responsibility not only for the leading of services, but outreach in the community.  God has blessed us, with the Word we have heard, the buildings we come and worship and teach in, but especially the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we turn the page and continue our history here at Emmanuel, let’s not abdicate the responsibility to others, but clearly as we do every year with the harvest of wheat or corn, go out into the fields of Goodland, harvest the crop that God has planted with the Word of God and be the church of Jesus Christ.

For the church of Jesus Christ holds high, not only the Cross of Christ, but the banner of the Gospel of Salvation for all of mankind, especially including each and every one of us gathered here who hear of God’s love for us and baptize our children into Jesus Christ, life, death, but especially His resurrection.  For God loves us so much He is love and we are inspired to love one another and ‘walk in newness of life.’  AMEN.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

07052015 5th Sunday After Trinity - We are to be a blessing!

Sermon Audio (Will be posted soon!)

July 5, 2015
We are to be a blessing!

When Emmanuel built the Education Wing, the congregation was busting at the seams with adults and kids.  Every imaginable space was being used from the loft here in the sanctuary, the rooms behind the stage downstairs, the overflow where a lot of people love to sit to the fellowship hall that bustled with Sunday School classes with dividers.  At the time building on a new addition to Emmanuel seemed the only thing that could be done in light of the fact that the sanctuary of our church had been built only 20 years earlier.  Pastor Clifton Osborn wrote the following in the booklet for the Dedication of the Educational Unit:
“God has blessed us.  We pray that this building will be a blessing to those who follow us….I thank God for the great unity displayed in this program.  Truly the love of God is at work in this congregation.”

Pastor Osborn clearly embodied the belief of Peter as he wrote our Epistle this morning.  Emmanuel was on the verge of large growth and needed the room to grow, expand and offer more for the ministry to and for the saints here at Emmanuel and for all of Goodland.

When Sky Ranch was here we used the educational wing, we channeled our forefather’s and followed the call Pastor Osborn clearly spoke of as we did exactly what Peter calls us to be.  “We are to be a blessing.”

And the blessing we are to be not only began with the building of the church in 1948, the education wing in 1968, but continues even today with our current state of our congregation.  We are a congregation that is different from 1968.  Some of the people are the same, a few more miles on each of us, some have entered the Church Triumphant, but we are ultimately the same.  For our identity is not in our outward appearance that for some like me is graying, but our identity is in what God has done for each and every one of us.

When we were baptized into the Body of Christ, the church, we were changed, reformed, reshaped and reborn as Children of God.  We identify with Jesus Christ and what He has done for each and every one of us.  We can then identify, emulate and be what Peter says, “Be a blessing”.  Our identity as followers of Jesus Christ not only connects us through our baptism to Jesus Christ, but changes each and every one of us.

Our identity also connects us to each other.  Not only are we identified with the church when we are out in the community.  We carry Jesus Christ with us where ever we go and in whatever we are doing.  As I have stated since Pentecost, God is love and we are to love one another.  Whether shopping at Wal-Mart, eating at McDonald’s or Steak and Shake or even playing cards with our friends.  People are watching what we do, what we say and how we act and this is why Peter says clearly we are to be a blessing.  When we are cursed, bless.  When you are talked bad about, bless.  When you have the opportunity to minister, bless.  For in our blessing others, we show our connection not only to Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 222 West 13th, Goodland, KS, but especially to Jesus Christ, in Whom we have been baptized.

Why should this matter?  Well this weekend is a prime example of why it should matter.  Last night our country celebrated July 4th with all the pomp and circumstance, fireworks going til even midnight, comradery with our family, friends and neighbors and a clear identification of our heritage.  Today we sing songs of our native land.  Our identity as American’s is clear, why can and do we not have this same identity as Christians, heirs of Jesus Christ and our baptism into His life, death and resurrection?

Peter inspires us clearly, we need to be a blessing and God can do this through each of us, we only need to fulfill what Pastor Osborn said since we are the legacy that can be a blessing for countless others with our church, our educational wing, but especially the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all of mankind.  For our God is a God of love and we can share God’s love for each of us and with others as we bless each other and our community for God’s Glory.  Let’s be the blessing and love as Jesus Christ loves each and every one of us.  AMEN.

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