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Sunday, February 21, 2016

02212016 Second Sunday in Lent - "I Will" Come and Worhsip

February 21, 2016
"I Will" Come and Worship

Luke, physician and author of the Gospel of Luke writes the following in his sequel, the Book of Acts:

Acts 2:41-47 “41 So then, those who had received his word [that is the Word of God] were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

This passage from the second chapter of Acts records for us the impact of what the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was capable of in the days, weeks, months and years after Jesus resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.  So powerful and profound was the message of the Gospel, it was as if the message had never been heard by anyone.  Truly it had not been heard from the bold eyewitnesses of the Apostles and the Evangelists who had seen Jesus, been impacted by His message and their lives radically changed.  But for those who heard the Gospel, “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.”

So powerful and profound was the awe felt, the fellowship shared and the worship and witness that was experienced, the church grew exponentially.  Luke pulls back the curtain of this growth when he records “that day there were added about three thousand souls”.  Consider that is three-quarters the population of Goodland who were baptized in one day.  But it was not an experience of peer pressure, which is more common today.  The deep impact felt by all who heard was from the mouths of the individuals who witnessed the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The awe was because the Spirit of God moved through the work of the Apostles and moved the people in a clear and profound way and radically changed the people and their individual and collective understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

But of what consequence is this for we who gather here today?  Why should this story inspire us as we gather here today at Emmanuel for fellowship?  For what reason should we as well be in ‘awe’?  I’d like to say it is the preaching, the bold witness from the pulpit.  But I would very wrong.  That would be my ego talking and clearly discounting God.  As Paul said, “May it never be.”

The real reason we should be in ‘awe’ today is because of the promises of God fulfilled for us in two clear and unmistakable ways for us who gather here today.  First, we have heard clearly the Word of God read unto each of us today.  Whether from the lectern, the songs we sing, the liturgy we speak and respond to or even the Gospel message from Matthew of the demon possessed little girl.  Today God’s Word has been spoken in our collective hearing.  God is telling us of His love for us and how from the beginning of time, He has made himself manifest for us and came to set us free.  This is the Gospel message, it is God’s love demonstrated for each and every one of us who gather today, but also for all of mankind.

The second reason we should be in awe today is what we receive from the altar.  We receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation.  When we partake of this meal, God reaches down into our lives and offers us the clearest and most profound blessing we can receive that imparts grace to each and every one of us and the promise of eternal life.  For it is God’s grace that God offers from the altar.  We receive from God the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, for in, with and under the Bread and Wine is Jesus True Body and Blood.

It might seem strange to hear, but God clearly and profoundly wants us to share what we have received this morning, both Word and Sacrament with others.  God wants us to share our worship experience with others.  In the book, “I Will”, Thom Rainer, clearly states the following: “True worship flows from the heart in recognition and response to the magnificence of Christ, and because of an understanding of the grace found solely in the gospel…true biblical worship manifests itself in experience with other believers as well.”  Today as a congregation we have encountered Jesus Christ and His Gospel and Jesus Christ wants us to share our encounter with others.

This is the awe that the first century church shared when three thousand were baptized.  This the awe that occurred when the apostles inspired the people of God to action.  This the awe that God empowers us to share with our friends our family and our fellow sojourners here at Emmanuel.  God is calling us as members of the Body of Christ to resolve not only to hear the Word of God, partake of the Sacrament of Jesus Christ Body and Blood, but also to resolve to love others and move us not just from “I could” to “I might”, but for each of us in awe to resolve to move to from “I could” through “I might” to “I Will” and come and worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  God is calling us to say boldly with the apostles, early church and all our brothers and sisters in Christ, today “I Will” share the Gospel with everyone and Come and Worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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