S-1362-SSE/C 5/12/2013 Hymns: (O) #5; (S) #193; LS. #191; #264; #307 (C) #54
Texts: Acts 1:12-26; Revelation 22:1-6, 12-20; John 17:20-26
Theme: “Don’t Be Bashful to Ask” (John 17:20-21)
Question: “How easy is it for you to ask” Armour, SD MSLS, Mother’s Day
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Seventh Sunday of Easter is from the Gospel lesson: “[Jesus said:] I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:20-26).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
Precious People of the Resurrection, today we observe and celebrate Main Street Living Sunday (MSLS). Rev. Dale Sattgast, the president of the SD District has declared May 5th, as the Sunday we observe this special day in thanksgiving to the Lord for His many blessings over the past 12 years of ministry through TV broadcasts. I was not able to hold it last Sunday and thus we are observing it today.
The text that engages us for this celebration is the Gospel lesson, where we hear from the lips of Jesus asking the Father of all Grace and mercy, in prayer, to bless all of those who believe in Him through the proclamation of His Word. Here, in the Upper Room discourse just few hours before Jesus heads to the gallows of the cross He is praying for you. He was not thinking of Himself and the great agony that awaited Him, but of you many centuries later.
What a marvelous Lord and Savior we have. To put it in laymen’s term, Jesus was not bashful to ask the Father on your behalf. In love we behold Jesus praying for you and you and you. He is praying for you so that you and Him may be one just as He and the Father are One. PAUSE.
A little over a decade ago, the President of one of our Concordia Universities was working very hard to cultivate a large gift from a very wealthy donor. He wined and he dined. He built a relationship. Over the course of several months everything was done right. The donor showed a great interest in the mission and ministry of the University. The donor and his wife were regular guests on campus. It was clear to the President that the time to ask was at hand. He asked for a time to meet with the donor and his wife. He made his presentation for some renovations for a building on the campus. After the case was made, the President was bold and asked the donor for $500,000. The donor cooly looked at the President and politely said no. The shocked and befuddled President excused himself from the donor’s home. For the next week he went over and over what went wrong in the process. He tried to figure out where things went wrong. He had done everything by the book. He had no idea why his request was almost immediately rejected.
After a week had passed he could take it no longer. He asked for five minutes of the donor’s time at his office. The man received him. When given the opportunity, the President got right to the point. He asked the man why he so quickly declined the president’s request that seemed so in line. The donor answered almost just as bluntly. “You didn’t ask for enough. My wife and I really wanted to make a difference at the university and we didn’t think $500,000 was enough.” The President came back with another request, this time for enough for the construction of a fine arts building. The request for multiple millions of dollars was happily agreed to! And the man who made the donation is the owner of the Pampered Chef Co.
This man had a vision and he didn’t want to just give a little. He wanted to give out of the abundance of what God has blessed him to make a difference in the lives of others. He was willing to give much more than was asked of him.
In the same measure, you and I should remember, that we have a generous, amazing and almighty God who is not limited to what He wants to pour upon us. Through this discourse from Jesus, we learn that Christ wasn’t and isn’t even now bashful to ask of His Father to bless our lives. What Christ desires is that we would believe on Him through the preaching of the Word.
And that is precisely what the Disciples did. They were faithful in taking the message of the cross and the empty tomb to the ends of the world. They shared it with all who would listen. They crossed oceans and continents and spoke of the salvation that Jesus has earned for them. These faithful followers of Jesus lived and died, breathing the Word to others. PAUSE.
That is why, on this MSLS, I am not bashful to bring before you the desire of the BOD’s request for your involvements by prayers and financial support. You see, in 2001, some men from Zion Lutheran Church of Sioux Falls, had a vision of letting the Gospel of Jesus Christ be heard weekly through a TV program.
They sought the input of the SD President and he was on fire for this blessed ministry. A BOD was set up, whose dream is to let everyone see and hear the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. They wanted the Words of Jesus to be proclaimed in a Lutheran way and thankfully we have done so. Weekly a different pastor (even I) is privileged to share the blessed news of the greatest story ever told—the story of our salvation.
You and I have much to learn from the Savior, who daily intercedes for us asking the heavenly Father to grant us the blessings to be ONE with Him and with other believers. But how can others hear of the message? Who will go? The Apostle Paul put it this way: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15).
We can be thankful that the disciples lived out their lives in being faithful witnesses. Having received the promised Holy Spirit, they took the message of the cross and empty tomb, to a people who had rejected Jesus when He was in the flesh. They took that Word of the Word Made Flesh to the entire world. This was their labor of joy and love.
On this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we too, have help. Help that the Holy Spirit has given us to participate and support a ministry with our prayers and finances that makes the Word made flesh known to people who are no longer able to be in the house the Lord, or never enter God’s house of worship.
Even as we observe and celebrate both MSLS and Mother’s Day we ought not to be ashamed to ask the heavenly Father to bless our giving and praying for this blessed ministry. Brief pause. What mother would be ashamed to get down on her knees and pray to the heavenly Father to touch her ill child and make him/her well? A loving mother wouldn’t be ashamed. She would crawl, weep and pray so that this child would be made well; like the Canaanite woman who pleaded for her daughter to be healed (Matthew 15:22).
I am thankful, for mother Church, that feeds us always the Word and Sacrament so that we may grow stronger in our faith and depend on our Savior for all that we need in life and death.
Today, on this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we find ourselves yet again between Ascension and Pentecost. We too are still in the season of Easter. We too celebrate the resurrected Christ. We rejoice that the cross has killed our greatest enemy death! We know that this is a done deal. Christ has told us that His work of redemption is finished. We know that our battle with sin and death has been won. We know that because CHRIST IS RISEN!
Yet, many still don’t know that blessed truth. Many haven’t heard of the message of the Gospel that changes hearts and lives. Many are not one with Jesus. You can help as the disciples did. You can support the ministry of MSL program with your prayers and finances. You can be faithful disciples sharing the love of Jesus with many. And where you can’t go, MSL does. By the grace of God alone, MSL keeps the main thing, the focus of the main thing.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been gathered again to hear the message of Jesus, that today He is praying for us. He wasn’t bashful to go to the cross for you. He wasn’t bashful to be humiliated for you. He wasn’t bashful to suffer the torment of hell for you. He wasn’t bashful to die for you. And He wasn’t bashful to ask the Father on your behalf. That is love in action.
May we not be bashful in joining our forces to spread the message of the cross and the empty tomb to the ends of the earth; as MSL has done for over a decade. God grant it for Jesus sake. And thus we pray with joy in our hearts saying: Amen Come Lord Jesus! Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLE DEO GLORIA