S-1194 3SAP/3C Hymns 6/13/10, (O) #912; S #644; (C) #648
Texts: Ezra 6:13-18; Revelation 21:1-5; John 2:13-22
Theme: “Built For the Glory of God” (Ezra 6:16).
Celebration of St. John congregation in Yankton, SD after it was rebuilt due to a fire.
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
(On behalf of the SD district I bring you greetings from the Rev. President Dale Sattgast and all of the saints who have been standing by you and supporting you with their prayers and finances)
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for this glorious celebration and dedication of this House of God is from the O.T. lesson: “And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy’” (Ezra 6:16).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved, throughout all of Holy Scriptures we have abundance of stories that captivate the heart and head. Some of the stories are awesome and amazing while others are alarming and appalling. The 2nd worse story in all of Scripture is found in Genesis 11. Here we read: “…they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth’” (vs. 4). This story of pride and destruction is second only to the story of death that we read in Genesis 3 when our first parents fell into sin.
Sin causes us to focus on ourselves and build things only for us and not for the glory of God. Sin blinds us to do the abominable thing that displeases God.
But while Babel was a story of building, the story that the Holy Spirit has gathered us to share today, while a story of building, is far different. In this house of the Lord known as St. John, the Word is professed and preached, the Sacraments are administered, and children will be taught and brought to sit at the feet of the Good Shepherd. In this house of worship young and old would confess their sins and receive the grace of God. Know they are loved and cared for. Here they know who they are and whose they are—the Baptized, the Forgiven, the Redeemed, the Blood-bought and heaven-bound children of the all availing God of mercy and love. PAUSE.
The great hymn writer John Wesley once declared, “I want the whole Christ for my Savior, I want the whole Church for my fellowship, I want the whole Bible for my book and I want the whole world for my mission field.” That is a man who has his priorities in order. That is what this house of worship is all about. Now that the building is completed, we don’t want to lose focus of why it exists and why it was built. SIMPLY to bring glory and honor to God in everything that is done within these walls.
Now the work is completed. The tasks have been accomplished. Our results are now celebrated. And there is the devilish temptation to sit back and revel in our work. But now is NOT the time to rest. Now, while the iron is hot it is time to strike for the kingdom! From this beautiful new house of prayer you are sent with the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. And you don’t have to go very far. Those nations needing discipleing are just outside the freshly built walls.
But you should remember this is not about the building, but about YOU. It is about you growing in the grace and knowledge of God. The building is a tool to help us grow as we gather often around Word and Sacrament. For in this place you will learn among other things these golden nuggets. By the Spirit’s power you will:
1. Confess a) your faith, and b) your sin to the God who freely and fully absolves, forgives and renews you. All that the Cross of Christ means – you are loved – and now you can love the lost and hurting world around you – witnessing to His amazing Grace.
The fruit of these gifts are that with His strength you will grow in Him and will therefore bear this fruit. From His Word and Spirit and the gifts of your Baptism you will:
- Feast on the Bible.
- Teach the Bible
- Worship the ONLY TRUE God—that the Bible presents to us.
- Live your lives to the Glory of that God the Word gives us.
Now that the building is done, your work is not done, but it is only beginning. And you should expect great opposition: In his book Prepare to Build Steven Anderson writes: “Expanding your facilities to do Kingdom work can put your church on the front lines of spiritual battles” Beloved it is totally unrealistic, naïve to think that we can desire to encroach upon Satan’s territory, without the Evil One putting up a fight. It’s impossible, ridiculous to think this way; it’s very immature to think this way.
You and I should not fear satan or his cohorts as we go about the work of the Lord building His Kingdom one living stone upon another; because the Living Word of God tells us: “Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Yes, the Christ the great Architect of the Universe dwells in your hearts and will use you for His Kingdom’s glory.
After all, this is why this house of worship has been raised from the ashes of the fire to stand up as a grand and glorious monument built for the GLORY of God. It is a building where you, His beloved Bride will gather, be fed, then go out, out to proclaim His amazing grace to those who still sit in ashes, the ashes of a sinner’s heart, not yet renewed!
This new structure cost $2.6 million to re-build, and it is glorious! What makes it most glorious is that all the volunteer hours (over 3000) and all the money in the plate stand to bear fruit that does not become devalued as does money, will bear fruit that is eternal, the preservation of faith and the proclamation of the Faithful Shepherd to lost sheep!
Today, we gather as God’s chosen people with members and guests alike to give thanks for His gift of mercy and grace to help us complete this house of Worship called St. John.
What a fitting name for a congregation. After all, the name was/is chosen after the name of the Gospel book John.
What a book it is! In it, we learn about a wedding in Cana…funeral in Bethany. You get to know a man named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, who came to faith in Jesus; you get to know Peter, a leader of the disciples, who denied Jesus three times. You read in John, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son….” You learn in John that Jesus cleared the temple and that He raised the temple of His body on the 3rd day. And you also learn about the Great I Am statements of Jesus: I am the GATE; the GOOD SHEPHERD; the LIGHT of the WORLD; the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; The BREAD of LIFE; the TRUE VINE; the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.
In this place as is in the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit helps us to know without a doubt that Jesus is all of those things for us and especially that He is the way of salvation. When Jesus said, “For God so loved the world…” HE MEANT YOU. When He cried out from the cross, “It is finished,” He meant your redemption was complete. He died and was condemned in your place. Your sins are forgiven. When He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” He meant YOU.
This house of worship is going to be a great and grand place for the proclamation of the Good News to the young and old. In this place, you will hear these glorious truths and celebrate these truths with all who enter these hallowed halls; of growing in our faith and in our ability to speak of our faith in Jesus. PAUSE.
There was a little old lady who was very spiritual. She would step out on her porch every day, raise her arms to the sky and say "Praise the Lord!" But there was an atheist living next door. And after a month or so of her yelling, "Praise the Lord" he got tired of it. He shouted back, "There is no Lord." But every morning, the lady kept saying “Praise the Lord!”
One snowy day, when the little old lady couldn’t get to the store, she went out on her porch, raised her hands up to the sky and said, "Help me Lord, I have no more money and no more food." The next morning, she went outside, and there were three bags of food on the porch. She raises her hands and shouted "Praise the Lord!" The atheist jumps out from the bushes and says, "Hah! There is no Lord. I was the one who bought those groceries! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!" The little old lady raised her arms to the sky and said, "Praise the Lord, you sent me groceries and you made the Devil pay for them too!"
This little lady praises the Lord because she can see God’s hand of blessings on her life. I want you to be like that lady. My prayer is that you will see the hand of God behind every blessing including the fire that has come to this house of worship. Though the devil attacked this house of worship, God still helped you built a new facility for His glory.
Through the gospel Jesus the awesome Architect of the universe builds something that is grand and glorious not fly-by-night; He builds something that is eternal and elegant not something here today and gone tomorrow; He builds a majestic Kingdom that will last forever and ever, not an empire that is part of the dustbin of history. He raises from the ashes human beings who will live and reign with Him forever with forever new bodies in the new heaven and new earth. The Spirit who helped before the foundation of the world to design this blueprint will take us as Christ’s living stones (1 Pet. 2:9-10) and build upon the Cornerstone through the touch stones of Word and Sacrament. Eph. 2:20 Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ being the cornerstone.
This glorious building the Father designs it, Jesus lays down the mortar as the Messianic martyr, and the Spirit builds it through Christ’s pardoning love...edify not crucify, build not break, grow not growl. Here God will use you to live a life that is pleasing in His sight and offer yourselves as living sacrifices for His glory.
Now, in gratitude and thanksgiving to the Good and gracious Lord for giving you this house of worship, by His leading, you declare the marvelous deeds of His amazing grace, even as the saints who have built it the first time did. This is why we must pray and give thanks, for the same God who used Paul, the sinner from Tarsus, He is using you. By His grace it shall be said of you, as it was of Paul, And they glorified God because of me. And again, the Psalmist wrote: “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,” (Psalm 115:1). This is even today. Here in this place, as we dedicate this building we dedicate for it His glory ONLY! Even so, Amen!
Now the peace of God…
Soli Deo Gloria