Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“Sacramental Certainty with Evangelical Risks!” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

S-1276 19SAP/3C 10/22-23/11 Hymns (O) #826; S#823; (C) # 722 LSB

Text: Isaiah 52:7-10; Ephesians 2:8-10; Matthew 14:22-31

Theme: “Sacramental Certainty with Evangelical Risks!” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Question: “Are you a risk taker?” Mitchell, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost is the Epistle lesson: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

It is a great honor and privilege for me to be with you as you celebrate and observe your Mission Festival. I pray that the Holy Spirit will help me to encourage you, enable you and empower you to live a life of a missionary.

Children of God, often instead of sharing the good news we joke about our heritage as Lutheran Christians: We say things like:

You Might Be a Lutheran If...

…You only serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color for the season.

...a midlife crisis means switching from the old hymnbook to the new one. forget to put water in the baptismal font but never forget to put water in the coffee pot. think a meeting isn’t legitimate unless it’s at least three hours long. make change in the offering plate for a ten. have more than five flavors of Jell-O in your pantry. think hotdish is one of the major food groups. think butter is a spice.
...the church is on fire, and you rush in to save the coffee pot.

But why joke about who we are? We have every reason to be thankful and proud that we are Lutheran Christians. Not selfish pride, but the pride of knowing our Sacramental Certainty and Evangelical Risks.

Yes, you and I as Lutheran Christians have what many other Christians don’t have—the Sacramental Certainty. In this Sacrament Christ has placed His name upon us in the marvelous and majestic waters of Baptism. On that day your parents brought you to the Font, as the Pastor was marking you with the sign of the cross; the Lord of the Universe was claiming you as His very own child for time and for eternity. That day you received forgiveness of your sins, life and salvation.

But there is more Sacramental Certainty for us Lutheran Christians; Christ comes to us in His Body and Blood and feeds us so that we can taste the forgiveness. He comes with the sweet honey of the Gospel found in His broken body and shed blood. He comes to us in His Word inviting us, so that He may bless us as only the TRUE God can and does.

Oh, the certainty we have as Lutheran Christians—the Sacramental Certainty, that no matter how our feelings are, no matter how many other Christians laugh and mock us, we can be certain of God’s Holy, Life-giving and Life Changing Word and promises. For this reason, we, should be joyful and celebrate life like no other Christians; because we know who we are—and whose we are!

With this joy comes the great and blessed privilege of taking the evangelical risks of living the life of a missionary not once a year when you observe Mission Fest, but every day of your life as the Baptized, Redeemed, Forgiven, Blood-bought and Heaven-bound child of the King of kings and Lord of lords—Jesus the Christ. PAUSE.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, A few years back I took some of our youth to Shoshone Base Camp in Idaho for a servant event. I know some of your youth had been there too. One of the activities on sight was climbing a 150 foot a Grand Fir tree. 45 feet up on that tree is a platform for a zip line. The zip line is attached by a cable to another tree 300 feet away. The cable is 3/8" galvanized Aircraft cable, and has a breaking strength of 12,000 lbs.

As you are standing on the ground, the activity seems safe and sound. But as they begin to harness you up for the jump; you begin to get squeamish and maybe even fearful. You climb ever so slowly and sit at the platform for either you jumping or being pushed off. Looking down is totally different than looking up. It appears so risky and so dangerous. But once you are off and zipping down the line you realize you are safe and you may even want to do it again, as some of our kids did.

Certainly there is a risk. You are putting your trust in that cable that at first appearance doesn’t seem strong enough to hold you. And worse yet, that you have never taking a leap of faith like that.

The life of a Christian is a life of risk. The risk is this: We get to go out on limp and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. From the safety of this place we feel so secure. But as we leave here, we begin to wonder, how strong we are. It is just like being on the zip line. But we ought to remember that line is anchored in the Grand Fir tree. (Here move from the pulpit to the boat)

You my brothers and sisters have been called by the Gospel to share with the hurting world about Your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But we don’t like to do that. We would rather joke about being a Lutheran Christian rather than share the good news.

But Paul exhorts us to do what God has called us to do. Listen again to what I call the most forgotten Lutheran Bible verse in all of Scriptures: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Almost every one of us here knows by heart Ephesians 2:8-9. We have been taught that well, but verse 10 somehow doesn’t make it into the recess of our memory.

Even the Gospel lesson for today exhorts us to take a risk like Peter did—evangelical risk of getting out of the boat and share that wonderful and blessed news the world so desperately needs to hear. For this is the greatest news you and I as Lutheran Christians are privileged to share.

Saints in Christ, yes, we have the Sacramental Certainty—with Evangelical Risks. But we don’t have to fear anyone or anything; for we are grounded not in a 150+ years old Grand Fir tree, but in the Tree of the Cross of Jesus Christ. That tree is sturdier and stronger than any tree in the world. That tree held the heaven-sent Savior who died for the sins of the whole world. That tree guarantees our freedom, our hope and our heaven.

The Tree of the Cross is what makes us move out of the comfort zone and step out in faith taking risks for the Kingdom’s work. The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah declares: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; (Isaiah 49:15-16).

Yes, my beloved saints in Christ, the pierced Palms of the Savior, Jesus, are stronger than any aircraft cable. The cable may hold up to 12,000 lbs; but Jesus carried all of your sins to the Tree of Calvary. On that tree He erased every stain and stench of sin. And when He rose again on the 3rd day, He blessed His disciples and sent them out to tell the world of His Salvation work. They took risks, some even died for the faith. And we, His 21st century disciples can do no less. Not because we have to, but because we want to be a shining light to the rest of the world about our Sacramental Certainty and Evangelical Risks.

God grant you the strength and ability to go zipping around, getting out of the boat and sharing the greatest story ever told—Jesus dying and rising for you. Amen.

Now the peace…


No comments: