Sunday, January 20, 2008

Today's Special Sermon

And by Special, I guess I mean short. Today we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of our Sanctuary. The service includes the blessing of the doors, sanctuary, font, lectern, pulpit, altar, and communion ware. Given this increase in length and the age of my folks - the sermon is short but ties into the service.

Jan 20th, 2008 – Septuagesima Sunday, 100th Anniversary of the Sanctuary

In the Name of Christ Jesus, the Light of the World +

Dear friends in Christ, today we celebrate the fact that for 100 years God has used this building to be a place of worship, to be a place where we could come and know that we would hear God’s Word preached, that we would receive His sacraments for forgiveness and the strengthening of our faith. It is a wonderful blessing, and one that we are right to remember this morning.

I find it interesting that the Old Testament given for this Sunday of the Church Year deals with the Israelites in the desert. We know of their 40 year wandering in the desert – and we know the pattern. They complain about something, and God provides. We look at the Israelites and think, “They are in the desert, and yet God preserves them – shouldn’t it be obvious to them that God loves them, and yet they complain.” Dear friends – look around. Not just for 40 years, but for a 100 God has housed you and cared for you here. That is a wondrous blessing. Frankly, the fact that any building stands in Oklahoma for 100 years, given our weather, heat then cold then heat, plus tornadoes and in-land hurricanes, is simply amazing. This is a wonderful place – a wonderful building, and God has used her to faithfully serve people here for a long, long time.

It is also interesting this day that the Gospel text is the parable of the workers in the field. The master calls people to work in His vineyard – some come early in the morning, some at noon, some even at the very end of the day. And they all receive the same reward, the same payment – they get a Denarius, the right and proper wage for a day’s labor. And when those who worked the full day get the same amount as those who worked but an hour – they grumble. Then the master says something to them that is profound – “But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? [14] Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. [15] Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' Or do you begrudge my generosity. So often the temptation is to think on how long and hard we have labored, all that we have done for Jesus – and what do we get out of it? Quite often we begrudge God’s generosity, or at least over look it.

Let us instead look at what God has indeed promised us – our very building reminds us of this. God doesn’t promise us earthly power or wealth, but He promises us a heavenly home. God doesn’t promise you that your house will be the biggest and best on the block – but He has promised to always welcome you here, to His House. Those doors are always open for those who wish to confess their sins and receive forgiveness. God is merciful. God doesn’t promise us that our earthly families will be wealthy or powerful, but He promises to make us part of His family – and that He has faithfully done through the gift of baptism – think on all those He has called into His own family through the gift of Baptism right here, at this very font, in this very place. God is loving. God hasn’t promised that our lives will be free of struggle and hardship – but He has promised through His Word to light our way. For 100 years God’s Word has been spoken and read here in this place, and we have heard and been guided by it through all sorts of trials, difficulties which we couldn’t have imagined until they were upon us. God is faithful. God doesn’t promise that we always will be able to stand on our own two feet and always do for ourselves – but He has promised that we will have preaching, that we can hear and learn that while we may fail, Christ Jesus never fails in His love and forgiveness for us. For 100 years that is what has echoed from this pulpit. God raises up the sinner to salvation through Christ Jesus. And finally, God doesn’t promise us that in this life we will eat the finest foods and go the most popular parties. Instead – God calls us here to His Altar, where we receive from Him the life Giving Body and Blood of Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Taste and see that the Lord is Good to you.

Dear friends – not only is this building a blessing because it is the place where God has given His blessings to us – but its very structure – the Lectern, the Pulpit, the Altar, the Font – these all direct us to remember what God has promised us. We are always pointed again and again to God’s generosity here – we are reminded to not with wandering eyes look elsewhere, but we are to remember that our Master is true. God has said that He will richly forgive our sins, and He does. He is faithful in His love and mercy to us – and we have received and we continue to receive all that He promises to us in His Word for the Sake of His Son right here in His House.

For 100 years, God has been faithful to us here in this place – He has done all that said He would – and He has shown us great love. Let us with gladness and thankfulness remember God’s mercy and love to us throughout all the days where this building stands – indeed throughout all ages while any Church still stands – until the day when Christ comes again, and this building is put to rest, and we with all of God’s saint join together in the eternal worship of God in Heaven. Amen.

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