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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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