08192018 13 Aft Pent 12 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“We are Christ Centered!”

08192018 13 Aft Pent 12 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

August 19, 2018

“We are Christ Centered!”

Sermon Audio

It is clear that Emmanuel Lutheran Export, PA has had many challenges in the last 198 years of our existence.  From a pole tent church, being on the hill in Export to moving here between Murrysville and Export and recently following God’s teaching and desire and becoming a part of the North American Lutheran Church.  These changes have not been easy, but what is certain is that we as a congregation are centered and grounded by our values and beliefs. There are four of these ‘values’ that we hold as members of the Body of Christ and specifically the North American Lutheran Church.

Today and for the upcoming three Sunday’s I want us to explore and hear more about our beliefs and practices.  So this morning the first of the values of the NALC and Emmanuel revolves around one individual, Jesus Christ. The core value is “We are Christ Centered”!  Not only do we believe in Jesus Christ, but at the center of our worship, our witness and our way is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In our society today, it is clear that some churches ebb and flow with the different ideals that mainstream culture and our world hold up and ‘value as important’.  Yet, as disciples of Jesus Christ and specifically as members of the Body of Christ here at Emmanuel like a pendulum, our core value stating that “We are Christ Centered” brings back not only into focus but returns us to the center of our beliefs with a timeless truth that all things begin and flow from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So fundamental is this value that we begin our worship in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We hear in the readings how the Old Testament people looked for the coming of Jesus Christ and we today in sharing and singing about Him proclaim His importance and our desire to share it with others.  It is not only our worship and singing, but around the very table, the Altar of God we are fed by Him and given the gift of eternal life out of His great love for us. For as our catechism reminds us, “Jesus as True Man can redeem us” and Jesus offers us the gift that only He can give us, because He truly understands our needs and we demonstrate in our worship and for others to see and believe, “We are Christ Centered”.

Our belief is shown weekly when we partake of Jesus Christ, precious Body and Blood.  This connects us and shows others our clear personal relationship with Him. What occurs is that ‘We dwell in Christ by partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  And the Lord’s Supper gives us absolute assurance of the forgiveness of sins. As well the Lord’s Supper strengthens us for a godly life that flows over from Jesus Christ to us.’  So clear is this a demonstration that “We are Christ Centered” that we are empowered and called to share it with others in our world, whether inside the four walls of the building showing all who come the love of Jesus Christ, but also to all of Export and throughout the world.

This value we have some say is the most valuable thing we as the North American Lutheran Church own.  Let me try and explain it in this way.

One day an older gentleman, “Dr. P.” known as a gemologist was leading a group of school children on a mineral expedition from the school.  He was known as an expert in his field and had led many day programs where the children were allowed to use the tools of the trade and dig in the dirt as most kids like to do looking for not only fossils, but also the elusive gems that littered the valley.

On this day, little Tommy who was always getting into trouble and as “Dr. P” could see needed redirected, found a round rock.  Everybody discounted it’s value. Yet, for Tommy, it was like he had found a diamond. As smooth and cleanly shaped as it was, Tommy was in love with it.

Dr. P, when he first saw the rock instantly knew what it contained.  And he asked Tommy ‘did he know what he had’. With the indignancy of youth, Tommy answered, a rock.  Dr. P, pushed a little further, ‘but do you know what is on the inside?’ ‘Stone’ was the one word response from Tommy.  But, Dr. P said, “Would you believe me if I told you that what you have is of greater value and beauty?” Tommy slowly, and with clear uncertainty replied, “No…..”  Dr. P asked him, “would you trust me enough to break it open and show you?”

Slowly, gripping the perfectly shaped sphere Tommy, reluctantly and sheepishly handed it over.  Dr. P, placed the stone in a special jig and using a special cutter, began to ‘break open’ the stone.  You could see clearly the fear, doubt and concern in Tommy’s eyes as his beautiful stone began to be changed, from a thing of beauty to what he thought was a disfigured set of halves.  Yet, as soon as the saw stopped, Dr. P, gently placed the dust covered stones in the bucket of water at the end of the table. The stone halves were covered with black and gray dust and you couldn’t see anything as they descended into the depths of the water.

As Dr. P, pulled the now two halves of the stone out of the bucket, Tommy, nearly broke down in tears.  What had been connected and in his eyes was beautiful, now was ‘broken’. Then Dr. P turned the halves over so Tommy could see what was in the center of the stone.  It was the most vibrant of colors of red, blue, green and gold that he had ever seen. What Tommy learned that day was that the stone he had found at its very center was the most beautiful of the gems and geodes that was found in that dig site.  And only by trusting Dr. P, did Tommy truly see, enjoy and understand the beauty his stone contained.

This is the gem we the church here at Emmanuel hold.  Not only as a value for the North American Lutheran Church, but this gem, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but when we understand what Jesus offers us and all of mankind, His gift through us can change the world.  We need to willingly, gladly and lovingly share our gem, our value and our firm belief that “We are Christ Centered” with all of mankind.  In doing so we will demonstrate our value and others will want the gem we already have and hold.  We then can help others to meet our Savior, when we open up what seems like a mere stone and show others the true beauty, God’s gift of grace and God’s gift of love for others clearly showing, “We are Christ Centered”!  AMEN.