09232018 18 Aft Pent 17 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“Membership Matters: What is required of me?”

09232018 18 Aft Pent 17 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

September 23, 2018

“Membership Matters: What is required of me?”

Sermon Audio

All of us have at one time sat across from either a loan officer for a vehicle, a home or even when we signed a contract for a job we were about to embark upon.  What is laid on the table in front of us was a document that had one purpose. The document with the multiple signature pages is meant to codify clearly and explain what is required of me.  Though it is daunting, it is also a matter of opportunity for either a new ride, a place to raise a family or a job that utilizes our talents and our maturity.

As members of the Body of Christ gathered here at Emmanuel, within our series we began last week of Membership Matters, a question needs to be asked.  Since, “Membership Matters:  What is required of me?”

Remember last week we heard how we are separated from God and only through Jesus Christ is this separation remedied.  This separation no longer has dominion nor control over us, because of one event, Jesus Christ death on Calvary. Yet, “What is required of me?”

Believe it or not, “What is required of me?” is not an action, activity nor our giving anything to anyone.  “What is required of me?” is simply an acknowledgement.  Membership for we the people of Emmanuel simply allows us to acknowledge to God that we are sinners in need of a Savior.

Membership in the Body of Christ only requires us to fully acknowledge that we are sinful creatures in thought, word and deed.  Growing up, I cut my teeth on many different hymnals, yet the phrase from Lutheran Book of Worship from the Corporate Confession and Forgiveness section on page 56 is the most memorable for me.  This morning we confessed these words again when we as a congregation said, “we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.”  We laid claim to the truth that we are ‘sinners’.  We do not have the keys to set ourselves free from the sin that binds us and we are unable in and of ourselves to be freed from our sin which each of us carries in many and various ways.

We confess as the Body of Christ that “We have sinned against God [You] in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”  We have failed in every way possible to do “What is required”.  “We have not loved God with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.”  Ultimately, this is where we are at our lowest, because with our confession, we confess clearly a simple truth.  We are sinners. We are in bondage to our sin and we cannot be freed from it.

But God, knew this when He created us in our mother’s womb.  God knew the level and depth of the depravity of man, whether of murderers, liars, gossips and even the priests and pastors that betrayed the confidence of innocent people across the globe and even here in our state.  God saw these sins, from the greatest to the least, from hurting innocent children to the little white lie we are all guilty of telling even our own children. And God in His infinite wisdom and out of His great love for us and for all of mankind saw to and through our sin and wants us to understand one fact.  Though we are sinners, all that is required of us is to acknowledge our being ‘a sinner in need of a Savior’. And that our Savior is Jesus Christ!

When we ask, why Membership Matters:  What is required of me? it isn’t about what we do, but what God has done for us and our confession of being a sinner in need of a Savior.  Jesus Christ by His innocent death on Calvary offers us the greatest gift of grace that could ever be offered. We acknowledge this in our Confession when we say, “For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.  Forgive us, renew us, and lead us”.  We ask God to have mercy upon us, wipe away our sin, strengthen us against the arrows of doubt, shame and uncertainty that the devil daily assails at us and guide us here to the church to receive this free gift of grace and mercy for us and for all of mankind.  For when we confess our sin, we simply acknowledge God’s gifts for us from our Savior, Jesus Christ and how all the requirements our society sees as important were fulfilled and completed for us by our Savior, Jesus Christ on Calvary.

This morning our Epistle from James highlights for us the tension we daily feel, but also the offer of grace from God.  James writes, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”.  May we who gather here today, not be proud of what we do, nor look for easy ways to serve God, but stretch ourselves.  

One of the easiest ways to understand this is in preparation of pizza.  When the dough is made for the crust, one needs to kneed it and stretch it.  So to in the Christian walk, God wants us to be stretched so we can like good pizza dough have the leven distributed throughout the dough and God’s grace be spread throughout the church and rise to the tasks we face as Christians.  This is why James goes on to say, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”  It is a humble admittance that though we may feel inadequate, God is adequate to fulfill and give us what we need and help us to fulfill what God can and will do for and through us by His mercy and grace.

Simply, God answers the question we encounter this morning in our series, “Membership Matters:  What is required of me?” with our trusting and believing ‘our Savior is Jesus Christ’!  Let’s draw near to Jesus Christ and let Him work through us and leven each of us to rise to fulfilling God’s will for Emmanuel through our demonstration in our belief that we are ‘sinners in need of a Savior’.  And the truth that we are unable to answer the question, “What is required of me?” in and of ourselves, but our Savior, Jesus Christ can and does answer it through His fulfillment for us and all of mankind the gift of grace and mercy on the Cross for each and every one of us.  AMEN.